Slavery: Interdisciplinary Dialogue on its Memory and Afterlives

Slavery was and is an issue that affects every facet of enslaved people’s lives. To understand it fully, we cannot restrict conversation to a small number of disciplines.

When this project was first conceived, much of the dialogue on slavery was disjointed. Academic conversations were often restricted to single-discipline environments, with plenty of missed opportunities for deeper, more human research.  

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, an editorial partnership led by Julia O’Connell Davidson and colleagues at European and South African universities, lay at the core of this project. The team intended to bring the work of literary scholars, creative writers, archaeologists and others to the BTS audience. They planned a series of short articles on historic slavery, as well as its memorialisation in fiction, with the sole aim of questioning the ‘afterlife’ of transatlantic slavery.  

What did the project involve?  

The team commissioned and published over 25 short articles and creative writing pieces, working with authors to ensure they were accessible to non-academic audience members. The articles were brought together as an e-book, made free for download. This was a crucial element of the project: it needed to reach readers and activists around the world who were unable to pay for expensive academic journal and subscription services.  

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Julia O’Connell Davidson (University of Bristol, School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies) had recently published her book ‘Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom’ when this project was first conceived.  
  • Josie Gill (University of Bristol, Department of English) focuses on contemporary literature, in particular Black British, Caribbean and African American writing.  
  • Cameron Thibos, from the European University Institute, Migration Policy Centre, and openDemocracy, was the chief editor of BTS and thus a key member of the team. 

What were the results?

Information on the development and outcomes of this project see the Open Democracy Website  or watch the short film below.