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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Slavery and Emancipation in the Colonial Archives: British Officials, Slave-Owners, and Slaves in the Protectorate of the Gambia (1890-1936)
Author:Bellagamba, AliceISNI
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies
Geographic terms:Gambia
Great Britain
Subjects:social inequality
abolition of slavery
History and Exploration
Labor and Employment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:Although colonial legislation was created as part of the 'struggle against slavery' and ratified by European nations at the Conference of Brussels in 1890, it made the march of slaves towards freedom difficult. Against this background, this paper rereads the documentation on the struggle against slavery, conducted by the British administration along the River Gambia from the 1890s to the first decades of the 20th century. It first considers the reports that the first officials serving in the Protectorate of the Gambia wrote at the end of the 19th century with regard to the slave trade and the presence of slaves in communities along the River Gambia. Next, two case studies reveal at least three categories of subjects moving on the colonial scene, whose interactions were based on unequal positions of power. The British officials, according to the political needs of the moment, called alternatively either for the emancipation of slaves or for the preservation of the status quo. The masters were openly struggling to keep their privileges, notwithstanding legislation to the contrary. Colonial officials and masters alike treated the slaves as beings without rights. More or less overtly, however, slaves were trying to win their social and economic autonomy. By acting on the ruptures in the local equilibrium of power that had been provoked by the establishment of colonial administration, the rebellious slaves in Saba and some of the fugitive 'wives' of Mussa Moloh managed to win their freedom. But did the emancipation, which was so greatly extolled, really express the will of the colonial power to influence the local social and political structures? Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French. [ASC Leiden abstract]