Abina and the Important Men (Graphic History) (Paperback)

Abina and the Important Men (Graphic History) By Trevor Getz, Liz Clarke (Illustrator) Cover Image

Abina and the Important Men (Graphic History) (Paperback)

By Trevor Getz, Liz Clarke (Illustrator)


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Abina and the Important Men is a compelling and powerfully illustrated "graphic history" based on an 1876 court transcript of a West African woman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court. The book is a microhistory that does much more than simply depict an event in the past; it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world history and to reveal the processes by which history is made. Winner of the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association--and widely acclaimed by educators and students--the third edition features a new section considering the place of race in the story.

The story of Abina Mansah--a woman "without history" who was wrongfully enslaved, escaped to British-controlled territory, and then took her former master to court--takes place in the complex world of the Gold Coast at the onset of late nineteenth-century colonialism. Slavery becomes a contested ground, as cultural practices collide with an emerging wage economy and British officials turn a blind eye to the presence of underpaid domestic workers in the households of African merchants. The main scenes of the story take place in the courtroom, where Abina strives to convince a series of "important men"--a British judge, two Euro-African attorneys, and a jury of local leaders--that her experiences and perceptions matter. "Am I free?" Abina inquires. Throughout both the court case and the flashbacks that dramatically depict her life in servitude, both the defendants and members of the court strive to "silence" Abina and to impose their own understandings and meanings upon her.

Alongside the graphic history, the book includes a historical context section, a reading guide, primary sources, discussion questions, further research suggestions, and a gender-rich section exploring Abina's life and narrative as a woman.

The third edition features an essay by award-winning scholar Carina Ray. "Race and Intersectionality in Abina and the Important Men", which considers the role race and racialism played in Abina's experience and explores the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in the nineteenth-century Gold Coast. An additional section, "Race and the Tensions of History", redresses the omission of the theme of race in the previous two editions, responds to students' reactions to the graphic history, and considers the ethics of telling stories of suffering. This new edition further positions Abina and the Important Men as an excellent resource for considering the ways in which history is constructed, challenged, and revised.
Trevor R. Getz is Professor of History at San Francisco State University. He is the author of several books on African and World History and is a nationally-recognized leader in History education. Getz is also the editor of OUP's collection of all-digital history learning modules, Uncovering History.Liz Clarke is a professional illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Product Details ISBN: 9780197762189
ISBN-10: 0197762182
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: December 19th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Graphic History