Slavery in Africa: Archaeology and Memory

Posted on 26 October 2011

New volume edited by Paul Lane and Kevin MacDonald lays the basis for genuine, cross-disciplinary research on and engagement with the multiple layers of meaning and legacies of slavery in Africa

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The role and consequences of slavery in the history of Africa have been brought to the fore recently in historical, anthropological and archaeological research. Public remembrances - such as Abolition 2007 in Great Britain, which marked the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act and which this volume also commemorates - have also stimulated considerable interest. 

There is a growing realisation that enslavement, whether as part of a sliding scale of 'rights in persons' or due to acts of violence, has a history on the African continent that extends back in time long before the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Recent decades have witnessed an increase in attempts to commemorate and memorialise slavery on the African continent, through a combination of museum displays, historic site interpretation and public history projects. Unfortunately, there are still very few critical discussions of relevant case studies of this kind of public archaeology across the continent, and few examples of good practice. 

A new volume edited by   along with Kevin MacDonald of the Institute of Archaeology, addresses this lack, by offering a selection of papers on recent archaeological studies of slavery, slave resistance and their contemporary commemoration, alongside archaeological assessments of the economic, environmental and political consequences of slave trading in a variety of historical and geographical settings. Paul and Kevin both contribute chapters as does Stephanie Wynne-Jones.  

Similar intersections of memory, material culture, traditions and genetic heritage discussed in this book will also be a focus of new research conducted at York with colleagues at 12 other institutions around the world as part of a new EU-funded International Training Network EUROTAST due to begin next year

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Notes to editors:

 Proceedings of the British Academy 168, Published 27/10/2011, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780197264782