Reflecting on Imtiaz Habib’s Black Lives in the English Archives

Date / time: 28 October - 2 February, 12:00 am

Imtiaz Habib’s Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible (Routledge, 2008) is a touchstone for studying race and racialisation in early modern England. Through a careful analysis of “black citations”, Habib traces an “arc of invisibility” that begins with the unrecognition of Black lives in the sixteenth century and concludes in the seventeenth century with the “politicized racial subject”, a figure ensnared within English colonialism and racial slavery (p. 18). He upends this invisibility with an accompanying “Chronological Index” that rigorously details references to Black lives in parish records, state papers, newspapers, treatises, and diaries. For early modernists working on Black life, race, and the problem of archives, Habib’s work has been foundational.

We invite current or recent postgraduate research students from across Early Modern Studies to participate in an Online Symposium that will reflect on Habib’s Black Lives in the English Archives. Between October 2022 and February 2023, we will work collectively to produce a blog series, published by the many-headed monster blog. To aid in this series of collaborative reflections, we will host online and in person gatherings that will allow contributors to grapple with Habib’s work and develop their blog posts. This will begin with three online reading sessions that work through Habib’s text and an in-person workshop that will allow contributors to present drafts of their blogs.


10/2022 – 12/2022:  Online reading sessions

28/10/2022: Introducing Black Lives and the Sixteenth Century (Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2)

11/2022 (TBC): The Seventeenth Century (Chapter 3)

12/2022 (TBC): Beyond Black London Lives (Chapters 3 & 4, Afterword)

31/01/2023: Deadline for Workshop Drafts

21/02/2023: In-person Workshop at KCL, London

31/03/2023: Final Deadline for Blogs

04/2023 – 05/2023: Publication of Online Symposium

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