Maria Esther Hammack F'20

Maria Esther Hammack
Doctoral Candidate
History
University of Texas at Austin

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2020
Doctoral Candidate
History
University of Texas at Austin
South of Slavery: Enslaved and Free Black Movement across a Global Frontier, Mexico, the United States and Beyond, 1790-1868

Between 1790 and 1868, thousands of Black women engineered channels of liberation to Mexican destinations, often securing liberation for themselves while simultaneously engaging in helping others become free. This project reconceptualizes understandings of border-crossers, freedom-seekers, freedom destinations and the Underground Railroad. It traces the lives, geographic journeys and contributions of enslaved and free Black persons, centering Black women, to recover and understand their movement, their lived experiences, and how they forged communities in spaces south and southwest of the fluid US-Mexico border. This study contributes to the historiographies of Black liberation, resistance, and legacy by situating Black Americans as consequential actors in the shared histories of the United States and Mexico. It argues that freedom-seekers, who left the United States for Mexican havens, shaped antislavery, abolition, and freedom processes across the Global South and that their movement and narratives are integral components of the Black diaspora across North America.