On the Verge of War: Black Insurgency, the ‘Christie Affair’, and British Antislavery in Brazil

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This article examines Black subversive renderings of British antislavery during the Anglo-Brazilian crisis of the 1860s. It focuses on insurgent perspectives of the so-called ‘Christie Affair’, a diplomatic and military imbroglio that pushed Britain and Brazil to the brink of a war over the future of slavery in 1862–63. Although usually seen as a benchmark in the consolidation of the Brazilian national state, the incident brings into view an insurgent form of abolitionism that developed alongside the cessation of the transatlantic slave trade. Borrowing from a belief in international alliances that had long rallied self-liberating communities all over the Americas, afro-descendants read British gunboat diplomacy as a sign of solidarity with Black liberation in Brazil. In 1863, enslaved, freedpeoples, and quilombolas rose up in the provinces of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Pará, among others. In so doing, they redirected the theme of ‘foreign influence’ into a tradition of diasporic warfare against enslavement, radicalizing British antislavery to mean a decisive alliance for the end of bondage in Brazil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-139
Number of pages20
JournalSlavery and Abolition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Abolitionism
  • Brazil
  • Christie Affair
  • Great Britain
  • slave rebellion


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