[URBANTH-L]CFP: Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa

Joel Quirk J.Quirk at hull.ac.uk
Mon Jan 19 14:27:48 EST 2009

From: Joel Quirk (j.quirk at hull.ac.uk).
Subject: Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa.
Date: January 19, 2009.


Call for Papers:

VI International Conference on African Labour

Slavery, Migration, and Contemporary Bondage in Africa

23rd-25th of September 2009  

This is a revised call for papers and participation for an
interdisciplinary conference on 'Slavery, Migration, and Contemporary
Bondage in Africa', to take place at the Wilberforce Institute for the
study of Slavery and Emancipation, Hull, United Kingdom. This conference
will explore linkages between the history of slavery and migration in
Africa and contemporary forms of bondage, such as child labour,
'classical' slavery, child soldiers, descent based discrimination, and
human trafficking and the exploitation of migrants. Eight travel
bursaries are available for early career scholars based in and/or from
Africa. The conference has been sponsored by: 

*	The Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull
*	The Forced Migration Studies Programme, University of
Witwatersrand (http://www.migration.org.za).
*	The Centro de Estudos Africanos, Universidade do Porto
*	The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global
Migrations of African Peoples, York University,
*	The European Union Seventh Framework Programme, EURESCL Project
*	The British Academy UK-Africa Partnership Programme


The history of slavery and abolition is not confined to the Americas,
but also extends to millions of slaves in Africa, Asia and the Middle
East. When the Trans-Atlantic slave trade finally came to an end in the
1860s, both slavery and slave trading remained widespread across most of
Africa. Prior to the colonial 'scramble' of the late nineteenth century,
African slaves represented more than a third of the population in some
parts of the continent. During this period, the need to abolish slavery
and slave trading featured prominently amongst self-serving
justifications for wars of colonial conquest, but once European
authority was firmly established this anti-slavery rhetoric quickly gave
way to caution and complicity. Under colonial rule, slavery in Africa
experienced a 'slow death' that was frequently measured in decades,
rather than years. It remains an open question, however, whether the
legal abolition of slavery can be regarded as a clear break with the
past. Once slave labour was renounced, colonial agents turned to related
forms of exploitation, such as forced, bonded and indentured labour,
which could be more brutal and exploitative than indigenous slave
systems.  When controls on movement associated with slavery came to an
end, political elites turned to other instruments to take their place,
such as 'vagrancy' laws, migration schemes, and racially and ethnically
defined barriers.  

The events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century can be
connected to more recent developments in continental Africa in a number
of ways. In some cases, elements of pre-colonial practices have
persisted to this day. Especially problematic here are countries such as
Mauritania and Niger, where 'classical' slavery and descent based
discrimination remains an ongoing problem. In a larger number of cases,
contemporary forms of bondage involve an extension and reformulation of
earlier historical models. In many parts of West Africa, human
traffickers have been able to manipulate local traditions based upon the
placement of poor children with friends and relatives. In countries such
as Sudan and Uganda, recent histories of raiding parties and
'abductions' can be traced to earlier historical precedents. When modern
human rights campaigners object to 'slave chocolate' sourced from parts
of West Africa, they are following in the footsteps of earlier campaigns
against the use of forced labour in cocoa production under colonial
rule. When modern migrants find themselves in dangerous and exploitative
conditions, their predicament shares a number of features in common with
earlier victims of colonial exploitation. When African governments seek
to restrict and regulate movement, their approaches routinely draw upon
a series of colonial precedents and templates. In order to fully
evaluate both current problems and future prospects, one must first
understand historical practices.

Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa

Interested researchers are invited to submit paper proposals based on
one or more of the following themes:

*	Similarities and differences in the (ab)use of labour: How have
pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial political authorities sought to
organize and regulate labour in Africa?
*	Evolving patterns of migration and movement control: How have
various models of political authority sought to regulate, promote and/or
restrict the movement of peoples in Africa?
*	Institutional influences and colonial practises: On what terms
can we connect colonial budgets, 'native' policies, middle rank
administration and forced labour practices?

Social and Economic Formations
*	Innovation in exploitation: What factors account for the
emergence and/or further expansion of new forms of bondage following the
legal abolition of slavery across continental Africa?
*	The persistence of pre-colonial practices: On what terms can
historical practices be connected to current problems, such as child
labour, descent based discrimination, and/or debt-bondage?

The Past in the Present
*	Historical parallels with contemporary problems: What can the
history of slavery, migration and colonial rule in Africa tell us about
contemporary developments and future prospects in Africa?
*	The legacies of historical slave systems: How has the history of
slavery, migration and colonialism influenced contemporary patterns of
movement and labour exploitation within Africa?
*	Repairing historical wrongs in Africa: What avenues are
available to repair past injustices?

Each of these themes invite scholars who specialise in particular issues
and events to reflect upon the broader significance of their field of
expertise to both the broader history and contemporary prospects of

Submission Information

To submit a paper proposal, please send abstracts of up to 300 words,
together with a current curriculum vitae  to wise at hull.ac.uk, by the
13th of March 2009. The organizers of the conference have also secured
eight bursaries for early career scholars from/based in Africa. These
cover flights, accommodation and conference registration. Applicants for
bursaries should apply through the same procedure outlined above,
indicating that they wish to be considered for a bursary. Final papers
of between 6000 and 8000 words will be expected by the 31st of July
2009. The registration form for the conference will be available in
March 2009. Requests for additional information should be directed to
either Joel Quirk at j.quirk at hull.ac.uk or Darshan Vigneswaran at
darshan.vigneswaran at wits.ac.za. The organizers of the conference plan on
publishing a selection of revised conference papers as a special issue
of the journal Slavery and Abolition.-------------- next part --------------
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