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Imagining the future of slavery: African approaches toward slavery and abolition 
Benedetta Rossi (University College London)
Bosha Bombe Reta (Arba Minch University, Ethiopia)
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Alexander Meckelburg (UCL)
Benedetta Rossi (University College London)
History (x) Inequality (y)
Neues Seminargebäude, Seminarraum 24
Friday 2 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

The spread of abolitionist ideas in Africa turned slavery into a problem that had to be addressed. Some African groups aspired to a future without slavery, others favoured ameliorationist approaches. This panel explores African attitudes toward slavery from the 19th century to the present.

Long Abstract:

Like in other parts of the world, Africans started questioning the legitimacy of slavery at least since the Eighteenth Century. Ideas about what ought to be done about slavery and the slave trade were not politically neutral. Different groups and individuals, including slaveowners and enslaved persons, had conflicting interests and views about the future of slavery. In different places and at different moments, some wished to eradicate slavery, others to ameliorate it; some encouraged slaveowners to manumit their slaves but did not aspire to change the hierarchies in which masters and slaves had been integrated; others entertained egalitarian visions of the future in which all citizens would be treated equally irrespective of the alleged status of their ancestors. Local attitudes toward slavery have been interacting with global humanitarian movements and official government policies committed to a future without slavery. They have also been confronted with the circumscribed resilience of pro-slavery ideas. In some African regions, struggles around slavery and its legacies are still intense today. Papers in this panel explore the ideas and strategies of different African actors, from rulers to enslaved persons, from religious authorities to grassroots activists. They analyse the normative concepts and moral values mobilised in debates around slavery and abolition and examine the strategies developed by those fighting to suppress, or alternatively protect, slavery and its afterlives in African societies.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Friday 2 June, 2023, -