Work Package 2
Forgetting and Remembering Slavery in Europe and Africa
The objective of this work-package is to question simultaneously the dynamics of the silence on slavery in different countries and to analyse the memory of slavery among particular groups and communities. It will be implemented in distinct areas in Africa and Europe (Ethiopia, Senegambia, Portugal, Senegal), and will collect and use primary sources (archives, prints, interviews) in order to analyse the social and political stakes of forgetting and remembering slavery in both continents. One the one hand, the role played by Ethiopian and African American intellectuals and politicians in “silencing” slavery in Ethiopia for ideological reasons will be thoroughly analysed. On the other hand, the collection and analysis of the many slave voices that have no public visibility will offer ground-breaking insights into the social fabric of contemporary Ethiopia.
In a will of comparison, the WP will examine the work of memory and its complex interactions in a lusophone context both on the European and African sides where forced and coerced labour shaped social relations. However, unlike in France or Britain, in Portugal the issue of slavery is generally absent from the history of the nation-building, even though it was one of the earliest actors of transatlantic slave trade. Our aim is to interrogate this paradox and to understand the apparent inexistence of claims of slave descendants communities within this country. This will allow us to engage the dialogue with a more African contexts, in particular in three Senegambian societies where stigma related to slavery remains very strong.
Leader: Antonio de Almeida Mendes – University of Nantes