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The Shadow of EnlightenmentOptical and Political Transparency in France 1789-1848$
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Theresa Levitt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199544707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199544707.001.0001

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Illuminate All Eyes: Colonial Markets and the Problem of Freedom

Illuminate All Eyes: Colonial Markets and the Problem of Freedom

(p.161) 6 Illuminate All Eyes: Colonial Markets and the Problem of Freedom
The Shadow of Enlightenment

Theresa Levitt

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the two men's involvement in colonial trade and slavery. Biot developed an optical device — the saccharimeter — that became a crucial part of the colonial sugar industry, used to determine sugar quality. Arago, for his part, was a tireless critic of the plantation system. As the Minister of the Colonies after the Revolution of 1848, he signed into law the definitive abolition of slavery in the French Colonies. He had at first faltered in this regard, but rallied with Victor Schoelcher posed to him the question ‘is man free?’ But human freedom was implicated in the question of visibility. An active will was possible only for those free from the action of unseen forces.

Keywords:   Arago, Biot, French colonies, slavery, abolition, freedom, sugar, saccharimetry, Victor Schoelcher, Revolution of 1848

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