Slavery and apprenticeship came to an end in the British West Indies in 1838, the year photography was developed as a fixed representational process. No photographs of slavery in the region exist or have been found. Despite this visual lacuna, some recent historical accounts of slavery reproduce photographs that seem to present the period in photographic form. Typically these images date to the late nineteenth century. Rather than see such uses of photography as flawed, or the absence of a photographic archive as prohibitive to the historical construction of slavery, both circumstances generate new understandings of slavery and its connection to post-emancipation economies, of history and its relationship to photography, and of archival absence and its representational possibilities.

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