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Bringing Slavery into the Light in Postcolonial Portugal

The rhetoric and poetics of a slavery exhibition

Paula Mota Santos

. 6 Instead, he underlined that Portugal had been the first European nation to abolish slavery in 1761—but this date was of the abolition in the metropole alone (the trade was left untouched in the colonies). This situation provoked strong reactions

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Slavery as the commodification of people

Wa "slaves" and their Chinese "sisters"

Magnus Fiskesjö

In the 1950s, teams of Chinese government ethnologists helped liberate “slaves” whom they identified among the Wa people in the course of China’s military annexation and pacification of the formerly autonomous Wa lands, between China and Burma. For the Chinese, the “discovery” of these “slaves” proved the Engels-Morganian evolutionist theory that the supposedly primitive and therefore predominantly egalitarian Wa society was teetering on the threshold between Ur- Communism and ancient slavery. A closer examination of the historical and cultural context of slavery in China and in the Wa lands reveals a different dynamics of commodification, which also sheds light on slavery more generally. In this article I discuss the rejection of slavery under Wa kinship ideology, the adoption of child war captives, and the anomalous Chinese mine slaves in the Wa lands. I also discuss the trade in people emerging with the opium export economy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century which helped sustain, yet also threatened, autonomous Wa society. I suggest that past Wa “slave” trade was spurred by the same processes of commodification that historically drove the Chinese trade in people, and in recent decades have produced the large-scale human trafficking across Asia, which UN officials have labeled “the largest slave trade in history” and which often hides slavery under the cover of kinship.

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Learning to Remember Slavery

School Field Trips and the Representation of Difficult Histories in English Museums

Nikki Spalding

Drawing on the fields of education, memory, and cultural studies, this article argues that as important cultural memory products, government-sponsored museum education initiatives require the same attention that history textbooks receive. It investigates the performance of recent shifts in historical consciousness in the context of museum field trip sessions developed in England in tandem with the 2007 bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Analysis of fieldwork data is presented in order to illustrate some of the complexities inherent in the way difficult histories are represented and taught to young people in the twenty-first century, particularly in relation to citizenship education.

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Between Resistance and the State

Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France

Itay Lotem

pressing goals of this state organization was to direct the growing interest in the commemoration of the history of slavery away from the “simplification … of memory” to the “complexity of history.” She believed that “cette phase de la mémoire s’est achevée

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Surviving Slavery

Sexuality and Female Agency in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Morocco

Chouki El Hamel

The tragic hero of North African slavery is female. In Morocco in the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, female slaves, mainly black women originally from West Africa, survived and sometimes thrived by forging emotional bonds with their masters. The striving for survival and the tragic drama of the female slaves' lives entailed emotional and sexual bonds via concubinage. For free Moroccan men concubinage was legalized and was secured by means of the connection to sexual desire. Concubines, that is, enslaved women, used, initially at least, this desire to secure a better position in a servile status within a society where gender was hierarchical: patrilineal and patriarchal. If it was legally and socially established for a male to be entitled to female slave sexuality, it was, as well, legally and socially conventional for the progeny of female slaves to inherit the father's legal status. I use the analysis of the concubinage system as a process to investigate the interplay of agency, emotions, sexuality, identity, race, and gender in Morocco.

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Pierre H. Boulle

Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Laurent Dubois, Les Esclaves de la République. L’histoire oubliée de la première émancipation, 1789-1794, transl. by Jean-François Chaix (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 2000).

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Selective Empathy

Workers, Colonial Subjects, and the Affective Politics of French Romantic Socialism

Naomi J. Andrews

community. Socialists’ inconsistent empathy with various subjugated groups in the French body politic are acutely apparent when we examine their positions on key metropolitan and imperial issues during the July Monarchy, especially colonial slavery, wage

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Ex Aqua

The Mediterranean Basin, Africans on the Move, and the Politics of Policing

P. Khalil Saucier and Tryon P. Woods

Within the annals of black studies, analyses of state power begin with a well-trod premise that policing is not a response to criminal behaviour; nor is it an extension of a criminal justice apparatus whose operations can be accounted for by political economy alone. Rather, the police power is foremost a cultural phenomenon irreducible to materialist conceptions of social control in a capitalist world system. More to the point, policing is a methodology for social organisation premised on antiblack sexual violence. We consider several recent events of state power in the Mediterranean basin – as in the Lampedusa boat victims – in order to ascertain the erotic authority governing the police power of state and civil society. By using the Lampedusa case and others, we highlight that police power in the Mediterranean is more than the interpersonal and the event, but instead manifests as a methodology of violence by the state and its regimes, as history, as legacy. The policing and murder of hundreds of Africans in the Mediterranean we contend are not single and episodic events or moments in time, but are situated in the accumulated violence against black people globally. Without an analysis of antiblackness in relation to policing as methodology, events such as Lampedusa can be seen and understood as moments of exception (i.e. bad FRONTEX policy) rather than a practice that fully follows racial slavery. Without understanding policing from this standpoint, the political reaction to Lampedusa and other events has the danger of promoting 'reform' and 'revision' rather than a more radical vision: a future where black lives matter.

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Chris Buck

In this article I argue that Fanon articulates a more complex relationship between his notion of radical freedom and slavery reparations that allows for the possibility of demanding the latter without sacrificing the former. While at times Fanon seems to posit a simple dilemma according to which one must choose between freedom and reparations, he also describes a vicious cycle in which the taking of material reparations appears to be a precondition for freedom, yet the claim for reparations appears to come at the cost of adoption of a constraining cultural identity. In other words, the process of attaining the material conditions necessary for radical freedom through slavery reparations can have the opposite effect of inhibiting freedom. The question of the possibility of taking reparations without sacrificing freedom becomes a question about the possibility of thinking about enslaved Africans and their descendants as a collective entitled to reparations without positing a constraining cultural identity.

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Worst Conceivable Form

Race, Global Capital, and The Making of the English Working Class

Zach Sell

W. E. B. Du Bois noted that the nineteenth-century US slave plantation corresponded with the factory in its worst conceivable form. This article expands upon Du Bois's insight to consider the emergence of the English working class in correspondence with American settler slavery and colonial projects within the British Empire. From above, elites theorized about the exploitation of labor as a world historical project to compare the enslaved, the colonized, and the English worker against one another. From below, proletarian intellectuals imagined the freedom of English laborers through the condition of the enslaved in the American South and Jamaica and the colonized in South Asia. By placing these histories from above and below together, this article argues that it is impossible to conceive of the English working class making itself and being made at remove from the enslaving and colonizing projects of global capital.