Resisting Slavery in Contemporary Urban Africa

Seminar date: 
23 September 2011
13.30 - 17.00u
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Seminar room: 
3A06 (third floor)

Scholars in the field of slavery studies in Africa will present their recent findings on the persistence of' slave-master relations in West Africa at this seminar, which is being organized to coincide with the defence of Lotte Pelckmans’s PhD thesis entitled ‘Travelling Hierarchies: Moving In and Out of Slave Status in a Central Malian FulBe Network'. Her recent study of slavery, which approached the subject in the context of globalization from the angle of everyday life, analyzed how some forms of hierarchical relationships between former masters and slaves have persisted in ritual labour and how specific forms of dependency have continued in the division of resources, kinship structures and political office. Her work has helped to explain the persistence of slave-master relations in West Africa regarding the relationship between self-identification based on historical patterns of identity and belonging as well the 'success' of these relations as coping strategies for otherwise marginalized former slave groups. Many former slave families are today migrating to urban areas in Africa and Europe but, even in cities, some of these 'former' slaves still prefer to act out roles based on old patterns of dependency. Why have they not stepped out of these patterns? Or have the people who have withdrawn from such relationships become invisible? These are important questions in human-rights debates not only in the African context but also in the African diaspora. The presenters at this seminar will reflect on the reality and memories of slavery in the urban contexts of today’s globalizing world both in Africa and beyond.


13:30- 13:45 Introduction: Mirjam de Bruijn (ASC), chair

13:45-14:30 Presentation by Mahaman Tidjani (Université Abdou Moumouni, Niamey)
Discussion led by Klaas van Walraven (ASC)

14:30-15:15 Presentation by Eric Hahonou (Roskilde University):
Claiming ethnicity: reconfiguration of slave status, emancipation and citizenship in Benin (pdf, 9KB)

Discussion led by Peter Geschiere (University of Amsterdam)

Coffee break

15:30-16:15 Presentation by Lotte Pelckmans (Radboud University):
Social movements of slave descendants in Mali: the case of TEMEDT (pdf, 9KB)

Discussion led by Peter Pels (Leiden University)

16:15-17:00 General discussion