Introduction: Exploring Post-Slavery in Contemporary Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This special issue examines the impacts and legacies of the slave trade, domestic slavery, and slave emancipation on social, political, and culturally constructed inequalities in Africa from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. Post-slavery usually refers to studies of the Americas and the Caribbean where slavery continued to have a deep impact on a variety of societies long after its legal abolition. Could this term be relevant to discuss the legacies of slavery on the African continent? American and African forms of slavery were certainly different and the translation of “post-slavery” from the American into the African context cannot be done uncritically. We address both the relevance of the notion of post-slavery as well as its limitations in African contexts through a number of empirically grounded contributions based on recent research.The terms post-slavery, post-abolition, and post-emancipation share the hyphen in common. The hyphen in this context connects the past to the present, the work of the historian to the work of the anthropologist, the slave to the master. But the hyphen also indicates a temporal disruption or discontinuity. We must bridge the historical and the contemporary in order to understand the dynamics of emancipation in the past and the present. It is therefore fitting that this issue brings together historians applying anthropological fieldwork, as well as anthropologists applying historical archive research in a variety of cases from both West and East Africa. By presenting case studies with a broad geographical coverage, we address the question of why the legacies of slavery remain important in some societies but are on the wane in others.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of African Historical Studies
Volume48
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
ISSN0361-7882
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • post-slavery
  • Africa

Cite this