Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Slavery and emancipation in the haalpulaar society (Mauritania): the influence of migrants of servile origin on social renogotiation  


Olivier Leservoisier (Lyon II)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the influence of migrants of servile origin whose financial help serves economic interests & political goals with the aim of backing a social movement. It shows that power relations between social groups involve a large network of actors from various overlapping contexts.

Paper long abstract:

Slavery is still a very topical issue in Mauritania with the latest official abolition of slavery dating back to 1981 and more recently the Mauritanian National Assembly adopting, on August 8th, 2007, a law criminalizing the slavery. The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of migrants on the emancipation of groups of servile origin. After a brief presentation of the essential discriminations that the descendants of slaves are facing today, I will focus on the various kinds of resistance that these forms of discrimination produce.

In this perspective, I will show how the political action of subordinate groups reveals the influence of international actors in local political arenas. Hence, international migrants not only support financially the political goals of social movements, but they also influence the local political imagination by introducing new ideas and strategies. Thus, an increasing number of subordinate groups have been to claim an equal share of political power in the name of the principles of equality, dignity and individual competence. Their demands are not limited to participation in the new political structures of the municipality, but they also aim to be represented in the traditional powers of the village.

The example of the village of Djeol (in the Senegal River Valley) will illustrate that power relations between social groups occur not only at the village level, but may well involve a broad network of agents (youths, migrants, administration employees), different transnational spaces (Europe, Africa), and forms of political imagery. These converging factors contribute to the ambivalence of political practices.

Panel W004
Mobility, transnational connections and sociocultural change in contemporary Africa