Slavery and Liberation Observed from the Margins of the Atlantic: Reflections of Overseas Colonization in The Book of Joseph (1783-1784)

Markéta Křížová




The article explores how African slavery was perceived in the Czech Lands. After a brief review of earlier Czech reflections of modern slavery, the text focuses on The Book of Joseph (1783-1784), a rare source in German and Czech language that was aimed to communicate to the public in the Czech Lands the essence of the Enlightenment reforms. In the text, the theme of slavery was used in several different ways when discussing the problems of political autonomy, religious tolerance, and abolition of serfdom. While responding to the widespread Enlightenment discourse of “liberation” from the bonds of prejudice, superstition, and ignorance, the author(s) of the text also followed up on more than two centuries of indirect encounters of Czech readers with the complex world of the Atlantic and, at the same time, reacted to the specific political claims and debates that marked public discourse in the Czech Lands of the late eighteenth century.


Intellectual history; Atlantic history; slavery; Enlightenment; Czech Lands; Václav Matěj Kramerius




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