Why talk about slavery today?

With Daina Berry, Víctor Barros, Candra Flanagan and Cristina Roldão

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Daina Berry, Víctor Barros, Candra Flanagan and Cristina Roldão will debate the historic legacy of the transatlantic trade of enslaved people in two talks organised with the Slave Wrecks Project.


The transatlantic trade of enslaved people is frequently described as a distant historic event with little to no connections to the contemporary world. Lasting for more than four centuries, the slavery and slave trade conducted by the European empires has left, however, a persistent historic legacy with complex ramifications at various levels which can still be acutely felt.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Slave Wrecks Project are organizing two talks that will comparatively discuss this legacy taking into account the historical specificities of Portugal and the US, and explore more equitable and inclusive ways of approaching this difficult history.

The talks will be moderated by Inês Brandão and Raquel Machaqueiro.

Image: Sabrina Belouaar, Dada (2018). Photo: Pedro Pina



Life Experiences and Forms of Resistance

This talk will have the participation of Daina Berry and Víctor Barrros, who will decentre the traditional historical narratives of slavery, focusing instead on the perspectives of the enslaved people.
Comparing the lived realities in the U.S. and in the Portuguese occupied territories, Berry and Barros will explore several topics related to the experiences of the enslaved people and their perspectives, namely the diversity of experiences according to their geographical contexts and type of labor they were forced into, the multiple forms of resistance to the condition of enslavement (from the daily small sabotages, to the organized rebellion), as well as what the traditional historical narratives say (or don’t say) about forms of resistance.
The talk will conclude with reflections on the how and the why of talking about this historical period.
Daina Berry (online participation)Víctor Barros
Raquel Machaqueiro

Talking About Slavery as an Ethical Responsibility

The second talk, with Cristina Roldão and Candra Flanagan will be more focused in the educational context.
Roldão and Flanagan will reflect upon the importance of talking about slavery in the Portuguese, American and global contexts. Approaching this history through a comparative perspective, the two scholars will talk about how the history of slavery is approached in schools and in some public policies, the difficulties of mentioning the inherent violence of this history while avoiding the trap of revictimisation, and the importance of telling this history in relevant and inclusive ways in an educational setting.
The talk will conclude with reflections on the legacies of slavery, and the ethical and positionality issues underwriting this history, which belongs to everybody.
Candra FlanaganCristina Roldão
Inês Fialho Brandão



The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation reserves the right to collect and keep records of images, sounds and voice for the diffusion and preservation of the memory of its cultural and artistic activity. For further information, please contact us through the Information Request form.

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