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Scholar will present 'Conjure, Communism and the U.S. Civil War'

Friday, September 29, 2017

LAWRENCE — An award-winning scholar of modern Germany, the United States and West Africa will deliver a lecture at the University of Kansas examining how the American Civil War was also an international revolution against slavery.

Andrew Zimmerman, professor of history at George Washington University, will speak about "Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Mississippi Valley: Conjure, Communism and the U.S. Civil War" from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union.

Zimmerman, who is also a current fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is the author of "Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany," "Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire," and "The Globalization of the New South.”

His research focuses on the Civil War as both a national war for the survival of the United States and an international revolution against slavery. 

Highlighting the role of African-American conjure — the North American counterpart of Haitian Vodou, Jamaican Obeah and other Afro-Atlantic religions — and German-American communism in the struggle against slavery in the United States, this lecture follows the Union Army down the Mississippi River Valley to its victory over the Confederacy. 

It was through the war-by-emancipation strategy developed by these international revolutionaries that the Union defeated the Confederacy, Zimmerman said. Yet as part of his argument in his scholarship is that Union elites also fought to suppress the very revolutionary energies on which their victory depended, for these energies also threatened hierarchies of race and property that they held dear.

The event, sponsored by the KU Department of History, is free and open to the public.