SOAS University of London

The history of West African slavery on film at SOAS

13 February 2014

Scholarly research on slavery and the African diaspora will be presented in a series of films at SOAS, University of London, starting this month, to highlight slavery in the African continent and its eastwards dimension within the Indian Ocean World.

Taking place on 20 February, 27 February and 6 March, History on Film: Slavery and the African Diaspora from a Global Perspective - Screenings and Exhibition, organised by SOAS Centre of African Studies (CAS) and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, aims to question the biases in studying slavery.

The films are The Diambourou: Slavery and Emancipation in Kayes , directed by Dr Rodet; Indian Ocean Memories and African Migrants, directed by Dr Shihan de Silva, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and Mémoire promise (Promised Memories), directed by Gaetano Ciarcia (Montpellier University) and Jean-Christophe Monferran (Cnrs Paris).

Marie Rodet documentary pic
'The Diambourou: Slavery and Emancipation in Kayes' directed by Dr Marie Rodet

The films examine the processes of integration and assimilation in the different African diasporas, and how these communities produce diasporic cultural spheres, which today constitute memoryscapes of the history of slavery.

Dr Rodet said: “Slavery has all too often been studied in isolation from Africa. 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.”

In her film, Dr Rodet tells the story of those who resisted slavery by escaping their masters and founding new independent and free communities in the district of Kayes in the first half of the twentieth century. The film presents a unique audiovisual archive of slave emancipation in Mali.

Dr Rodet has also curated the photography exhibition ‘Malian Landscapes of Freedom’ by Fanny Challier, a visual artist whose art work is has been influenced by land art. The exhibition featured pictures taken in Bouyagui (Mali), a village founded by slaves who revolted against their masters in 1914. ‘Malian Landscapes of Freedom’ will be displayed in the Wolfson Gallery, SOAS Library, 24 February 2014 - 21 March 2014.

The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion. View the full programme.