Talissa Ford

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20112012 Forum on Adaptations

Talissa Ford

Assistant Professor, English, Temple University

"We Come From the Sea": A Pirate Revolution

My project explores the way in which eighteenth-century piracy participated in a broader revolutionary Atlantic movement, a movement that adapted systems of power in order to dismantle them. Pirate crews were generally composed of the poorest members of society (unemployed merchant sailors, escaped slaves, ex-convicts), for whom national, economic, and social systems were oppressive. Pirate ships, on the other hand, were "bottom-up" societies, democracies structured by and for the lowest members. I argue that, despite repeated attempts by the British government to expunge the revolutionary power of piracy, the legacy of this collective resistence endured long after piracy itself was eradicated.