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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Book Talk with Jessica Johnson, author of 'Wicked Flesh'

Monday, September 21 | 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Virtual Event

Johnson is a WUSTL alum and author, 'Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World' (assistant professor of History, Johns Hopkins University; Mellon Mays Alumna, Washington University in St. Louis). 

The story of freedom pivots on the choices black women made to retain control over their bodies and selves, their loved ones, and their futures.  Johnson draws on archival documents scattered in institutions across three continents, written in multiple languages and largely from the perspective of colonial officials and slave-owning men, to recreate black women's experiences from coastal Senegal to French Saint-Domingue to Spanish Cuba to the swampy outposts of the Gulf Coast. Centering New Orleans as the quintessential site for investigating black women's practices of freedom in the Atlantic world, "Wicked Flesh" argues that African women and women of African descent endowed free status with meaning through active, aggressive, and sometimes unsuccessful intimate and kinship practices. Their stories, in both their successes and their failures, outline a practice of freedom that laid the groundwork for the emancipation struggles of the nineteenth century and reshaped the New World.

This event is sponsored by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Washington University.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Arts & Sciences


Humanities & Society




##mmuf #wickedflesh

Event Contact

Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo | toliver-diallo@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Johnson is a historian of Atlantic slavery and the Atlantic African diaspora. As a digital humanist, Johnson explores ways digital and social media disseminate and create historical narratives, in particular, comparative histories of slavery and people of African descent. 

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