MARCH 2015: The Past in Service of the Future: Remembering Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade for Nation Building and Identity Creation in Africa and the African Diaspora

The EUROTAST fellows will be presenting the findings of their research at the upcoming Genetics/Heritage conference, 23-25 April at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. Deadline for submission has been extended to March 15. To submit a paper or to attend the conference, visit the Genetics/Heritage website.

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Title: The Past in Service of the Future: Remembering Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade for Nation Building and Identity Creation in Africa and the African Diaspora

Author: Winston Phulgence

The memory of transatlantic slavery and its legacies have become the subject of memorials and commemoration ceremonies In Africa and Caribbean in the last two decades. While in Caribbean monuments have been erected memorialising slavery and its legacies, in West Africa forts which were once the epicentre of the transatlantic slave trade have been imbued with the memory of slavery and the slave trade and are now sites of memory for these activities. This deployment of the memory of slavery and its legacies in the public space was preceded by more than a century of silencing in national historical narratives and lack of state authorised commemoration and memorialisation. The new thrust of memorialisation and commemoration was led by the state and state sanction organisations in order to insert this memory into the national historical narratives. This paper will argue that the deployment of the memory of slavery in the public space through the use of monuments and memorials was the result of the need to foster national economic development and the creation of strong national identities as bulwarks against neoliberal forces which threatened their economic survival and national identities.

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