About this Project

The Visual Afterlives of Slavery is a digital platform that investigates the relationships between visual practices fostered during the slaveholding era in the circum-Atlantic world and their endurance in contemporary modes of seeing Blackness. It is an initiative of the Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture, an interdisciplinary forum at the University of Chicago that investigates images of slavery and the slave trade as well as the creation and use of images and objects by enslaved peoples and slaveholders.

The Visual Afterlives of Slavery platform consists of two digital exhibits that explore the history of visual regimes of enslavement and their legacies in post-slavery societies:

Visualizing/Performing Blackness in the Afterlives of Slavery: A Caribbean Archive

Curated by Danielle Roper

This exhibit features the work of performance and visual artists from the Caribbean. Each artist was invited to create a digital performance/visual art piece reflecting on the legacies of slavery in their individual countries. Together, these pieces address the visualization of Blackness in post-slavery societies and allow for a way to investigate the functions and meanings of the concept “afterlives of slavery” as a theoretical and temporal framework for critically engaging visual regimes of racialization in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.


Conceptualization: Danielle Roper
Curatorship: Danielle Roper
Invited artists: Awilda Sterling, Carlos Martiel, Fabio Melecio Palacios, Joiri Minaya, La Vaughn Belle, Las Nietas de Nonó, Leasho Johnson, Luis Vasquez La Roche, PERMANENCIAS (Nemecio Berrio Guerrero)
Liaison with artists: Danielle Roper, Isabela Fraga, Cristina Esteves-Wolff, Pedro Doreste, and Eva Pensis
Design: Marc Harkness
Project Management: Isabela Fraga, Cristina Esteves-Wolff, and Danielle Roper
Editing: Cristina Esteves-Wolff and Isabela Fraga
Translation: Cristina Esteves-Wolff, Pedro Doreste, Eva Pensis, and Isabela Fraga

Palimpsests: Visual Idioms of Enslavement in the Nineteenth Century
and Their Afterlives

Curated by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Isabela Fraga

This collaborative exhibit unearths various modes in which nineteenth-century visual idioms of enslavement endure in present-day constructions of Blackness as a site for policing, discipline, labor, desire, love, death, and/or pity, as well as the challenging responses offered by contemporary artists across the Americas to that legacy. The conceptual figure that organizes this exploration is the palimpsest—the idea of a primary inscription that both persists and is disfigured underneath the surface of a new one.


Conceptualization: Agnes Lugo-Ortiz
Curatorship: Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Isabela Fraga
Project Management: Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Isabela Fraga
Design: Marc Harkness
Editing: Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Isabela Fraga
Copyright research: Gabriela Lomba Guzman
Paulina Alberto (Harvard University)
Nohora Arrieta (University of California, Los Angeles)
Danielle Bainbridge (Northwestern University)
Allyson Nadia Field (University of Chicago)
Brodwyn Fischer (University of Chicago)
Isabela Fraga (Stanford University)
María de Lourdes Ghidoli (University of Buenos Aires)
Mary Hicks (University of Chicago)
Alejandro de La Fuente (Harvard University)
Agnes Lugo-Ortiz (University of Chicago)
Kaneesha Parsard (University of Chicago)
Danielle Roper (University of Chicago)
Lilia Schwarcz (University of São Paulo)
Deborah Thomas (University of Pennsylvania)
Tamara Walker (Barnard College)

The first image and structure of each palimpsest were conceptualized by Marc Harkness, Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, and Isabela Fraga.


This platform has been made possible by the support of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and supplementary funding from the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC).

Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture Faculty Organizers

Agnes Lugo-Ortiz 
University of Chicago, Romance Languages and Literatures

Allyson Nadia Field
Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

Christopher Taylor
English, University of Chicago

Danielle Roper
Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

Larissa Brewer-García
Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

Graduate Students

Cristina Esteves-Wolff
Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

Eva Pensis
Music & Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Chicago

Isabela Fraga
Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago
(Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center)

Pedro Doreste
Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

Gabriela Lomba Guzman
Comparative Literature, University of Chicago