Connecting image and imagination: the arts on/and African slavery

Anna Seiderer (University Paris 8)
Lotte Pelckmans (Aarhus University)
Mads Anders Baggesgaard
Arts and Culture
Chrystal McMillan, Seminar Room 1
Session slots:
Wednesday 12 June, 14:15 - 16:00

Short abstract:

The panel explores the imagined connections and/or ruptures between past and present African slavery and their representations in images/the Arts (visual, performative, written).

Long abstract:

While a vast body of literature now exists on the visual and literary cultures of both past and present legacies of slavery in the US (e.g. Zabunyan 2004, Cederholm 1973, Tawil 2016) an explicit focus on (west) African artistic expressions and representations of historical and contemporary forms of slavery seems to be more shallow, scattered and difficult to find. The panel thus proposes to explain the seemingly representational gap between Africa and US by connecting the potential for imaginations of slavery with the actual images of slavery in the African context. With potential imaginations of slavery, we mean the temporal, spatial, socio-political and institutional ways (memory politics, funding, regions and historical conjunctures) in which African forms of slavery have been or are -allowed to be- imagined and their impact on the accessibility and/or production of artistic work. We understand both art works (visual, performative) and (literary) texts (including pamphlets, songs, testimonies, activist reports) as images in the sense that they represent a certain form of imagination. We welcome papers examining images, i.e. the various archives of artistic expressions (written, visual, performative) on either historical or contemporary forms of slavery produced on the African continent, for example investigating how (inter-)national patrimonialization, commemoration politics (Bortolotto 2011; Ciarcia, 2016), or human rights and humanitarian discourses have influenced the (in-)accessibilities and (mis-)interpretations of these images. In so doing, the explicit connections (or ruptures) between arts and African slavery understood as a "scarce resource" (Appadurai 1981), can be established.