Elena Furlanetto

FellowElena Furlanetto

Contact: Elena FURLANETTO

Project at the Centre:

Northbound and Southbound: Underground Railroads in Comparison

 “Northbound and Southbound: Underground Railroads in Comparison” focuses on border-crossings towards the free North and Mexico by enslaved individuals in 19th-century America, and situates itself at the intersection of literary studies, memory studies, and inter-american history. The project follows two lines of inquiry: The first compares accounts, personal narratives, and archival fragments by fugitives of the Northbound and Southbound “underground railroads,” looking at these narratives in their intersectional complexity and joining them in conversation for the first time. The second looks at how interamerican underground railroads relate to present issues and global memory politics.

Recently the subject of an eponymous novel by Colson Whitehead (2016) and an Amazon miniseries by Barry Jenkins (2021), the Northbound underground railroad was amply documented. While Still, Whitehead, Jenkins, and a variety of scholarly sources contributed to the iconic status of the Northbound Underground Railroad, less is known about Southbound passage into Mexico, and no literature until now has addressed the two in a comparative light. Parallel to my work on Northbound fugitives, I plan to direct my attention to records of the Southbound Underground Railroad, which offers significantly less textual evidence.

Research Interests:

  • Transnational and Transatlantic American Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Islam in/and US Media and Literature
  • Postcolonial and Comparative Empire Studies
  • Turkish American Literature
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