POLY Lecture Series on Space and Religion II: “The Space and Time of Slave Rebellions”


Katherine Gerbner (University of Minnesota)




18:15 Central European Time


Campus Westend (Seminarhaus, SH 1.108) and Zoom Meeting

This talk will examine the role of space and time in planning and responding to slave rebellions in the early modern Atlantic World. Most enslaved rebels chose to rise up either on Sunday or on Monday morning, during or directly after the Christian Sabbath – when many White slave owners were in church. Enslavers were aware that the time and space of Christian religious practice posed a challenge for slave governance, and they created laws that aimed to restrict Black religious space and time by criminalizing what they called “irregular assemblies”. “Irregular assemblies” could be defined as any congregation of enslaved people outside of White control, and this approach effectively criminalized Black religious gatherings. This talk will focus on the relationship between law, religion, and slavery by placing two rebellions into conversation: the Stono Rebellion (1739) in South Carolina, and Tacky’s Revolt (1760) in Jamaica. The response to these two rebellions demonstrated both overlapping strategies of governance and divergent ideas about how to regulate religious space in a slave society. 

The lectures can be attended in person or online. To receive an invitation to the Zoom meeting, fill out the form “Book this Event” on this page or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About the picture: Church Interior with Christ Preaching to a Congregation, attributed to Cornelis van Dalem and Jan van Wechelen, 1545–1570 (image: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).

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