Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Ghulam A. Nadri

Second Advisor

Tiffany A. Player


Black pirates played a significant role in the Atlantic World during the early modern period. On board pirate ships, black pirates were ready combatants, equal participants in voting, and joined in brotherhood with their comrades. Black pirates could even become quartermasters and captains. Becoming a pirate was one pathway for the enslaved to find freedom and agency in a world where the slave trade flourished. Some black pirates participated in the slave trade, showing that individual liberty topped black collective unity. Black women largely suffered at the hands of pirates, highlighting that the pirates’ life was a patriarchal one. Libertalia, the pirate community at Madagascar and St. Mary’s, served as a multiracial society black and white pirates thrived at, living together and expanding their legacy of tolerance for centuries onwards. Black pirates should not be forgotten, but remembered as revolutionaries, and highlighting agency instead of passivity.


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