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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Transatlantic Slave Trade: Contemporary Topographies of Memory in Ghana and the USA
Author:Schramm, Katharina
Periodical:Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana (ISSN 0855-3246)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Ghana
United States
West Africa
Subjects:slave trade
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
History, Archaeology
Abstract:Both African and diasporan societies were seriously affected by the transatlantic slave trade, yet not in quite the same ways. In a similar vein, the consequences of these historical experiences for contemporary societies as well as for the individuals living in them also differ. In recent years, there have been attempts to link those disparate discourses via the promotion of diasporan heritage tourism to the slave sites in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. Central to this movement is the proclamation of black unity and healing. In this article, the author follows the traces of this assertion by investigating how the history of the slave trade is being negotiated in the Ghanaian public sphere. After describing the ways in which slavery and the slave trade are being discussed in the United States, she turns to the local and national meanings of slavery and the slave trade in Ghana. In conclusion, she looks at the sacralization of memory as a means of addressing the common, though deeply contested, slavery past. Many African Americans use metaphors of pilgrimage, ancestral presence and catharsis when talking about their journey to the slave sites and the experiences that occur in that charged encounter with the past. A second dimension of sacralization entails the attempted closure of the past. What is considered sacred cannot be debated, at least not in public. The practice of sacralization can be regarded as an attempt to create a linear interpretation from a chaotic and violent past. Yet there is no such thing as a singular past and behind a common story there lie many different motivations and experiences. The articulation of those positions in public reveals this complexity, rather than shutting it down. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]