Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ghachem at BC on Jesuits and the Souls of Slaves in 18th-Century Haiti

[And that’s not all from our friends at Boston College!]

We invite you to join us on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 4:30, in the Rare Book Room of the Boston College Law School Library for our fourth and final event of the Legal History Roundtable 2016-2017. We are delighted to welcome Malick Ghachem, Professor of History at MIT. . . .

Professor Ghachem will be presenting a paper, “The Jesuits, the Souls of Slaves, and the Battle for Haiti, 1720-1730.” The paper is available on the website.

Refreshments are available beginning at 4:15 pm. outside the Library Conference Room. The discussion will begin at 4:30. The Clough lecture with Dr. Peer Zumbansen will not start until 5:30 so those who plan to attend both events should be able to.
The story of the Society of Jesus in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) begins in the early years of the eighteenth century, when the French monarchy expelled the resident Capuchin friars and invited the Jesuit order to take their place.  The remarkable priests who served during these years laid the foundations of the Catholic Church in Haiti, attending to the spiritual needs of a nascent French planter community while also organizing parishes and building the main cathedral in Cap Français.   The work of carving out an Ignatian space in this emerging crucible of eighteenth-century Atlantic capitalism unfolded against the backdrop of a near-total breakdown of political order in the colony during the early 1720s.  As local creoles mounted a dramatic rebellion against the slave trading monopoly of the French Indies Company in Saint-Domingue, the Jesuits found themselves drawn into some unexpected realms of secular and spiritual effort alike: the writing of Haiti’s first histories and the proselytization of its rapidly expanding and already resistant community of slaves.  How the Ignatians carried out these two missions tells us much about both the Jesuit order itself and the circumstances of Haiti’s sudden rise as the most profitable plantation colony in the world by the third decade of the eighteenth century.
Malick W. Ghachem is a historian and lawyer.  His primary areas of concentration are slavery and abolition, criminal law, and constitutional history.  He is the author of The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2012), a history of the law of slavery in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) between 1685 and 1804.  The book received the American Historical Association’s J. Russell Major Prize for the best work in English on French history and was co-winner of the Caribbean Studies Association’s Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize for the best book published in the field of Caribbean studies over the past three years.  He teaches courses on the Age of Revolution, Slavery and Abolition, American criminal justice, and other topics.

Professor Ghachem earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University and his doctorate in history from Stanford.  He clerked for the Honorable Rosemary Barkett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Miami, FL in 2004.  A member of the Massachusetts bar, Professor Ghachem practiced law in Boston from 2005 to 2010 for two law firms: Zalkind, Rodriguez, Lunt & Duncan LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.  For part of that period (2006-2007) he served as a lecturer in MIT’s Political Science Department.  Between 2010 and 2013, he taught at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, ME, where he is now a Senior Scholar.