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Reconfiguring SlaveryWest African Trajectories$
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Benedetta Rossi

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311994

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315640

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Introduction: Rethinking Slavery in West Africa

Introduction: Rethinking Slavery in West Africa

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction: Rethinking Slavery in West Africa
Source:
Reconfiguring Slavery
Author(s):

Benedetto Rossi

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846311994.003.0001

This book deals with slavery in West Africa and the trajectories followed by slave descendants, as well as the transformations in how slavery has been perceived and experienced by different categories of actors under various circumstances. Such trajectories reconfigure slavery into new meanings and practices, resulting in a new kind of enslavement that is embedded in new processes and institutions. The book looks at the persistence of pre-colonial forms of enslavement such as the resilience of old hierarchies in hinterland areas and the voluntary retention of slave–master relations. It also discusses strategies of upward mobility of former slaves trying to hide their own and their children's slave origins, including migration and the reinvention of history. The book discusses manifestations of ‘slavery’ in West Africa under four different rubrics: the circumscribed resilience of historical forms of enslavement (slavery); forms of exploitation reminiscent of slavery (metaphorical slavery); stigmatisation based on inherited or putative slave status (categorical slavery); and exogenous discourses opening up new fields of thought and action based on the notion of slavery (extraverted slavery).

Keywords:   West Africa, slavery, slaves, slave–master relations, migration, upward mobility, enslavement, exploitation, stigmatisation

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