Robert Wedderburn’s ‘Universal War’

Anti-colonial universality in the Age of Revolution

Ajmal Waqif
The ideas and political commitments of the revolutionary abolitionist and Spencean Robert Wedderburn (1762-1835) represent a compelling example of a form of universality, articulated in the midst of the Age of Revolution, which defied European colonialism and plantation slavery. An engagement with Wedderburn’s writings on the Haitian Revolution, maroon warfare and his proposal of a Spencean communist programme will clarify ongoing debates about Enlightenment, empire, slavery and universality and might inform a re-engagement with the idea of universal emancipation in the political present.