Legacy of slavery, citizenship and ethnic identity. The struggles of slave descendants in Sahelian Africa

Valerio Colosio //SCMR & Geography// Wednesday 16th March 2016//1-2pm//Arts C133


Slavery is the harshest and most enduring form of social subjugation in global history. Although now officially abolished everywhere, it still represents a current issue and has left a social legacy that represents a relevant topic for social science. The aim of my research is to assess the aftermath of slavery in Sahel, through the case of the Guera region, in central Chad.

I carried out my research with a group locally labelled as “slave descendant” in the Guera region. I am trying to understand what it means to be considered as a slave descendant; and how the recent decentralization reforms are affecting slave descendants’ situation. In this lecture, I will try to discuss some theoretical tools that I am reassessing on the basis of the evidences collected in the fieldwork. First, the category of slave descendant, whose meaning is often grounded in a particular context; then the policies of decentralization and the concept of local civil society; finally, in a broader sense, the idea of citizenship and its relationship with ethnic identities.


Valerio is a PhD candidate of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex. He is investigating how the legacies of slavery are affecting political life in the Guera region, in central Chad. This research forms part of a larger project funded the European Research Council grant 313737 “Shadows of Slavery in West Africa and Beyond. A Historical Anthropology” (http://shadowsofslavery.org/), focusing on the legacies of slavery. The research is implemented by the University of Milan – Bicocca.

He has achieved an MA in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Milan – Bicocca in 2009 and an MSc in Anthropology and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012. He has worked in different NGO projects in Chad between 2010 and 2013, spending there a total of 16 months. His main research interests are slavery in the Sahel area and its legacy on contemporary political life; local civil society and its capacity to foster marginal people participation to the social and political life.

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