Damma’s World: Translation, Religion, and Politics in the 18th century Atlantic World

Samuel Russell Endowed Lecture
Headshot of Katharine Gerbner next to image of antique map
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
Room 101 Walter Library

117 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

The 2024 Samuel Russell Endowed Chair Lecture will feature a talk by Professor Katharine Gerbner from the Department of History. 

In 1739, a formerly enslaved African woman named Damma composed a letter to the Queen of Denmark on behalf of 50 Black women on the island of St. Thomas. In it, she protested the treatment of Black Christians in the Danish West Indies and offered a narrative of her own journey from West Africa to the Caribbean. 

Damma’s letter is written in both Dutch Creole and Damma’s native language of Gbe. The Gbe portion of the letter, however, has never been translated. Professor Gerbner's talk will focus on her current collaborative project to translate Damma’s Gbe words for the first time. Through this project, Prof. Gerbner and her collaborators seek to offer new insight into one African woman’s life story, and into the terms and categories she used to define herself – many of which have since been forgotten.

This event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

The Samuel Russell Endowed Chair in the Humanities is made possible through a generous gift from Jim and Teddy Gesell in honor of their fathers.

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