Tag Archives: P. Djeli Clark

Pirates, Hydrarchy and the Motley Crew: Beyond “Arrgggh!”–Guest blog by P. Djeli Clark

[Note from Ay-leen: In recognition of International Talk Like a Pirate Day that happened yesterday, I’m cross-posting Djeli’s wonderful piece about pirates from his blog The Disgruntled Haradrim]

Map Insert of the Caribbean from “Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts” by Frank Richard Stockton. Click for source

In the late 17th thru mid 18th centuries, piracy was the method of last resort for the downtrodden and dispossessed: men desperate for work; deserters from throughout the war-wracked Atlantic; runaway slaves seeking refuge from bondage; criminals (from debtors to cutthroats) escaping the long arm of the law. Today, pirates are most remembered through popular culture–as dashing rouges, foppish cross-dressers, menacing brigands and motley crews of mad men and degenerates. But the pirates and piracy of history were much more complex, individuals who chose the margins of society as preferable to the authoritarian rule of empires, creating a separate space where they sought to govern themselves through methods that were radical not only for their day, but our own.

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Filed under Essays