Work Package 1

Understanding Citizenship, Marginalization and Injustices in Post-slavery Societies in Europe and Africa


This work package will focus on the consequences of slave ancestry on identity construction, and on the challenges of citizenship in post-slavery societies. Its main approach is a comparative analysis of the social, political and economic experiences of slave descendants in post-slavery societies. We shall explore how slave descendants deal with issues of stigmatisation, marginalisation, representation and under-representation within social classificatory structures in various countries in Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean islands. Particular attention will be given to the social and cultural dimensions of “otherness” in relation to the stigma of slavery; as well as to their collective representations in the social, political and economical spheres. We will study narratives of identity and contend that the persistent and intergenerational legacies of slavery lead to exclusion, marginalisation and the resurgence of conflicts. The articulation of grass-roots activism and national policies will be discussed with the objective of analysing the dialectic between inclusion and exclusion, and its effect on national cohesion.

Taking the discourse on citizenship one step further, this WP will study the issue of reparations claimed for Atlantic slave trade and slavery, which has become an international political debate. The role of African intellectuals and political leaders is central: what is their posture in the on-going debate between American and Caribbean claimers, and European states? How could African intellectuals and politicians face the claim for reparations coming from the Americas, if they respond with difficulty to local claims by descendants of slaves in their own countries?

A major asset of this work package is to craft a conversation between various countries and cultural areas that are facing similar issues with regards to slave descendants and their claim to citizenship and rights, but in very different contexts. The UK, France, Senegal, Kenya, and Mauritius each face national discussions and transnational challenges giving substance to the social and political life of post-slavery societies. International staff mobility, research, training, and the development of audio-visual tools will support an innovative and inter-disciplinary dialogue between East Africa, the Western Indian Ocean islands and the Atlantic world.

Leader : Olivette Otele – Bath Spa University

Slavery in Africa: A dialogue between Europe and Africa