History on Film | Slavery & The African Diaspora From a Global Perspective

Key information

5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
Khalili Lecture Theatre

About this event


An initiative of the SOAS History Department, Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, Centre for Media and Film Studies, Center of African Studies, in cooperation with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the European network of  EURESCL: Slave Trade, Slavery, Abolition and their Legacies in European Histories and Identities (7th PCRD) and the CIRESC ‘Centre International de Recherches sur les Esclavages, Acteurs, Systèmes, Representations’.

Our film series and panel discussions with the filmmakers propose to make visible people of African descent in India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Brazil, Benin and along the Swahili Coast in East Africa. By including films from the South Atlantic World, Indian Ocean World and Africa, we aim to throw light on the points of origin and destination of slaves. Rarely in the history of slavery has it been possible to correlate the trajectories of the home societies of slaves and the slave regime at the destination. Slavery has also been all too often studied in isolation from Africa. The focus has mainly been on the North Atlantic World. Indeed, the cultural dimension of Diasporas has long been observed in the North Atlantic World, but it has received only scant attention within the context of emancipated slave communities elsewhere.

By combining the two oceanic worlds, the films and the discussion panels aim at questioning these biases. They examine the processes of integration and assimilation in the different African Diasporas, and how these communities produced diasporic cultural spheres which today surely constitute memoryscapes of the history of slavery.

Organised by Dr Marie Rodet (SOAS), Dr Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies), Dr Parvathi Raman (SOAS), Dr Dina Matar , (SOAS), Angelica Baschiera (SOAS).

DAY 1 - Programme

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Silences & Taboos: Ethical Dilemmas in Making African Slavery Visible  on Film

Time Event


Dr Marie Rodet (SOAS)
Dr Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)


Keynote Speech

Global Slavery: Definitions and Debates

Professor William Gervase Clarence-Smith

17:45-18:00 Discussion


Yesterday’s Slaves: Democracy and Ethnicity in Benin

by Eric Komlavi Hahonou & Camilla Strandsbjerg (2011, 29 minutes)


Having recently gained political status, the Gando people of Northern Benin still face political marginalisation and social stigma even in the town of Kalélé where they form the popular majority. The Gando are formed of former slaves
and descendants of slaves, as well as children who are entered into servile fosterage due to communal suspicions linking certain birth defects to sorcery. By studying the Gando in Kalélé, this film encourages the reassessment of identity construction and analyses both the inclusive and exclusive nature of citizenship.



Chair: William Gervase Clarence-Smith (SOAS)

Eric Komlavi Hahonou (Roskilde University)
Lotte Pelckmans (Leiden University)
Marie Rodet (SOAS)

(Full programme attached)

Contact email: cas@soas.ac.uk

Sponsor: CoHaB; Marie Curie Actions