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Migration and Emancipation in West Africa's Labour History: the missing links

Rossi, Benedetta (2013) Migration and Emancipation in West Africa's Labour History: the missing links. Slavery & Abolition. pp. 1-24. ISSN 0144-039X

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URL of Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0144039X.2013.796108

Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1080/0144039X.2013.796108

Strategies of emancipation included projects of migration conceived and unfolded by migrants of slave descent. This article suggests that looking at how these migrants chose to move when they could control their mobility, and at the obstacles they faced, reveals aspects of the experience of enslavement and emancipation that have not yet been fully explored in the relevant historiography. While historians of African slavery have described the large-scale movements of ex-slaves that followed legal status abolition in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, only few studies provide detailed analyses of these trajectories from the perspective of the enslaved. Outside the field of slavery studies, both West African labour history and migration studies have been emphasising ethnicity over status, thereby underestimating how slave descent shaped the practices and aspirations of a large proportion of labour migrants. The autobiographic testimonies of migrants of slave descent provide insights into their strategies and expose differences across gender, age and location. Through an analysis of these sources, this article highlights the missing links in our reconstructions of the history of West African workers.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2013 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Centre of West African Studies
Subjects:DT Africa
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Taylor and Francis
ID Code:1369
Refereed:YES
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