More crowdsourced history.

Jonathan and I are struggling with how to depict the spread of slavery in the early nineteenth century. If you check out the page below (it’s clickable), you’ll see what we’ve got so far.

slavery page

The problem, as we see it, is that the image we’ve used, which is intended to evoke the classic drawing of the slave ship Brookes, might look to some readers like a board game. And if that’s the case, then the expansion of slavey will look like the slaves are winning.

If you have any ideas for how we can fix this, please let me know.

8 thoughts on “More crowdsourced history.

  1. Matthew

    I was thinking blood too. But the image is worth keeping. How about making the image a darker, more blood red as it grows in extent?

  2. Tedra Osell

    I like Tom’s idea. The image I get because you explained it, but I’m not 100% sure I would otherwise. And to me it looks not like they’re “winning” but like they’re “invading.” Which, you know, there’s a certain historical accuracy in how that reflects some contemporary arguments against the slave trade, but…

  3. Chris M.

    You might also depict slavery as a virus or epidemic that is afflicting, or “invading” as Tedra suggested, a geographic area. Seems like there would be some interesting epidemiological images to draw on there, and depending on how far you go with this you could use a series of images, or video, to highlight the rapid spread of slavery across time/space.

  4. Mark Rowan (@RowanMark0000)

    I cannot speak to your concern that some may see the map of the spread of slavery as a board game. However, the use of the “Brookes motif” is instantly recognizable and thus chilling enough to me because I supply the context through my view of history. How one interprets icons is individual, not merely cultural – the selection of any abstract symbol to emphasize a point will add a dimension for some, lose others, and confuse still others, unless a precise explanation accompanies the symbol/icon. Jus’ sayin’.


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