Between 2014 and 2018, under the auspices of the ERC grant ‘Shadows of Slavery in West Africa and Beyond (SWAB): a Historical Anthropology’ (Grant Agreement: 313737), a group of anthropologists directed by Alice Bellagamba investigated the shadows of slavery, and their specific ethnographic manifestations, in Africa and beyond. The results ‘descend’ into the everyday worlds of people who live the consequences of historical slave systems or who happen to find themselves ‘trapped’ in novel forms of socio-political inequality, racism, labour exploitation and sexual and moral violence. We seek to interrogate their stories in ways respectful of histories and contexts. Often, discussions on the continuities/discontinuities between ‘old’ and ‘modern’ slavery end up being constrained by terminological disputes, as if terminological clarification may clear consciences of the disquieting similarities (and differences) between yesterday’s slave systems and today’s examples of dehumanisation, indignity and exploitation.
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