Cultural productions in the context of slavery: slave narrative, narrative of the self and religious configurations

Camille Lefebvre (CNRS)
Emmanuelle Kadya Tall (IRD)
M'hamed Oualdi (INALCO)
Martin Klein
Start time:
29 June, 2013 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will examine cultural productions in context of slavery to point out social change both through slave narratives collected in the 19th and 20th century and through the religious configurations on both sides of the South Atlantic.

Long abstract:

In this panel, we wish to examine cultural productions in context of slavery in two ways. The first one is to trace through slave narratives collected in the 19th century mainly by foreign individuals or institutions, what do they tell us about narratives of the self. These narratives have usually been transmitted after a process of translation and rewriting and even after having been heavily transformed, but they still are perceived as life stories or autobiographies. One will question what has been socially and historically constructed in those accounts and what they are telling us about self-perception and self-representation in West and North Africa. The second one is to take the example of the religious field in the context of Atlantic slave trade, to show how it is organized in a global world on both sides of the South Atlantic. Speaking in terms of syncretism or diffusion processes does not take in account the changes endured on African soil, making its religious cosmologies something out of history. In Africa also, the slave trade did transform the religious field, upheaving for example, ancestry cults into territories deities to legitimate new political configurations. As such, one should not consider Afro-American religious productions as syncretism or conservatism from Africa but as productions born from the Atlantic slave trade, whose different ranges have more to do with their local context development. To conclude, we will question the interweaving between slave narratives and African diaspora religions' narratives in the construction of narrative of self.