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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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Discourses on Slavery: Reflections on Forty Years of Research

Discourses on Slavery: Reflections on Forty Years of Research

(p.207) 10 Discourses on Slavery: Reflections on Forty Years of Research
Reconfiguring Slavery

Philip Burnham

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the ever-changing discourses of slavery in West Africa based on the author's research spanning four decades. Drawing on his experiences of field research in Africa and the Caribbean, the author reflects on the social significance of contemporary usages of notions of ‘slavery’ that he has encountered in a variety of social contexts. He looks at a series of cases or instances drawn from his fieldnotes where he has encountered the term ‘slave/slavery’ on a regular basis, ranging from contested succession to a village chieftaincy to mobilisation of the word in situations of inter-ethnic conflict or extortion. The author also considers cases of contestation over natural resources and looks at a public festival in Trinidad celebrating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. In addition, he focuses on the impacts of globalised discourses on slavery in Cameroon, where he conducted research on the Gbaya people in 1968–1970.

Keywords:   West Africa, slavery, Cameroon, Trinidad, Gbaya, village chieftaincy, natural resources, festival, inter-ethnic conflict

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