Remembering slavery on screen: Paul Robeson in The Song of Freedom (1936)

Durkin, Hannah (2013) Remembering slavery on screen: Paul Robeson in The Song of Freedom (1936). Slavery and Abolition, 34 (2). pp. 252-265. ISSN 1743-9523

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This article examines cinematic remembrances of the Atlantic slave trade through the lens of Paul Robeson-starring British film The Song of Freedom (1936). An exceptional visualization of the horrors of the Middle Passage in transatlantic interwar cinema, the production nevertheless recapitulates an abolitionist visual paradigm characterized by lacunae and distortion. Yet, it also serves as an exploration of African independence driven by Robeson's self-reflexive performance, demand for script approval and stardom. Robeson's measure of authorial influence over the film represents a unique instance in British cinema in which a black performer was able to reframe dehumanizing representations of historical black experiences into a hopeful vision of an independent black future.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Slavery & Abolition on 31 May 2013, available online:
Keywords: Paul Robeson, The Song of Freedom (1936), British interwar cinema, British colonialism, anti-imperialism, slavery in cinema
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies > Department of American and Canadian Studies
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Horsley, Dr Adam
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2015 15:13
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 23:32

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