Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 152–163 | Cite as

Troubling the white supremacy-black inferiority paradigm: Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown in Europe

  • Sirpa SaleniusEmail author


This article examines the geographical and metaphorical journeys of such nineteenth-century antislavery lecturers as Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown, who crossed the Atlantic to visit Great Britain, France, and Italy. Black travellers crossed the ocean, as Douglass put it, to combat ‘American prejudice against the darker colored races’. Douglass and Brown used different strategies that were available to black men to perform racial protest against discrimination and prejudice. As they moved across the ocean, they challenged American white supremacist ideology by reinventing their identities as cultured cosmopolitans engaged in a journey from discrimination to acculturation, moving toward acceptance and equality.


whiteness white supremacy cosmopolitanism acculturation Frederick Douglass William Wells Brown 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Global Communication Strategies, College of Arts and SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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