Apologies for cross posting
LMA will be hosting a special conference on Saturday 17 March marking the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and International Women's Day.
Details and booking information are below:
Winds of Change – Women and Slavery
Day: Saturday March 17th
Time: 10am – 4.30pm
Location: London Metropolitan Archives, 40, Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB
Cost: £50 / £30 (includes lunch)
To book: Call 020 7332 3820 email [log in to unmask] write to Bookings at the above address
This one day conference for International Women’s Day marks the 1807 Act which abolished the slave trade. The role of free and enslaved women in the anti-slavery movement will be explored along with contemporary issues surrounding the existence of slavery today.
9.30am Welcome and coffee
10am Women and Their Forgotten Role in Slavery
Nigel Sadler Sands of Time Consultancy
When one opens up the history books on slavery the information given mainly reflects the involvement of men - the abolitionists (Clarkson and Wilberforce), the Slave traders (Canot) and the slaves (Equaino). This male dominated history fails to acknowledge the role of women at all levels of slavery. It belittles and devalues their importance. This paper will give an overview of women and slavery following female slaves from their treatment in Africa, their journey across the Atlantic and their experiences as slaves, including personal accounts, such as that of Mary Prince. It will show that women slaves, such as Queen Nanny, led revolts. The role of female slave traders such as Rosaline Canot, and slave owners will be examine as will the work of women involved in the abolitionist movement, such as Abby Kelly in the USA and Anne Knight in the UK.
10.40am “Belly Women” and “Pickeniny Mummas”: Images of Jamaican Slave Mothers in Discourses of Slavery and Abolition.
Dr. Henrice Altink University of York
Both pro- and antislavery writers measured slave mothers against the metropolitan norm of motherhood.- to raise healthy children; to show affection for their offspring; to turn their children into responsible citizens; and to put their children’s needs before their own. This paper explores the extent to which pro- and antislavery accounts of Jamaican slave mothers in the period 1780-1834 engaged with the metropolitan ideal of motherhood. The first section examines proslavery remarks about Jamaican slave mothers and illustrates that proslavery writers were especially keen to see that slave women lived up to the first attribute of the metropolitan norm of motherhood. The second section will show that antislavery writers focussed in particular on the second attribute of the norm and that they were far more optimistic than proslavery writers about slave women’s ability to become as good mothers as white, metropolitan women. The last section sums up the pro- and antislavery writers’ engagement with the metropolitan motherhood ideal and argues that their remarks about Jamaican slave mothers exerted influences beyond the debate about slavery and emancipation.
11.40am Desiring Freedom – the Betto Douglas story
Victoria O'Flaherty Director of Archives, National Archives, St. Kitts
Betto Douglas was an enslaved woman on the plantation belonging to the Earl of Romney. At age 52 she challenged the system of slavery by claiming that she had been promised her freedom and even petitioning the Governor for his assistance. Her claim antagonized attorney Richard Cardin so that her story plays out as a clash of wills between a determined, elderly enslaved mother and the attorney who ran a plantation as he saw fit. Betto's pursuit of her own manumission was a manifestation of the enslaved' near-relentless quest for freedom.
12.20pm Colliding Worlds in the Curatorial Environment: The Archivist and the Activist
Charlotte Berry, Special Collections, University of Exeter Information Service
Lucy MacKeith, trainer, museum consultant and black history researcher
This paper follows the exhibition ‘Whose history is it?: checking out the British slave trade and its abolition in 1807, starting with the Gale-Morant archive at the University of Exeter’ which was held for Black History Month in October 2006. This exhibition was guest curated by Lucy Mackeith, who worked closely with Charlotte Berry, Archivist, University of Exeter, where the Gale-Morant archive of Jamaica plantation papers is held. They will investigate how the collection has been harvested to reveal aspects of women’s lives recorded in the archives of the Gale and Morant family sugar plantations in 18th and 19th century Jamaica. There will also be an examination of the process of an archivist and an external consultant from ‘colliding worlds’ collaborating to humanise the archive collection in the context of Black History, making the information accessible to a wide audience. This will include a discussion of the differences in viewpoint and perceptions, which included managing tensions and differing expectations.
1pm Lunch – Behind the scenes tours and viewing of original slave history materials from the LMA collections
2.30pm Cameroonian Women Struggling Against a Few Traditional Praxis.
Dr Olivette Otele Institut Catholique de Paris and Université Paris XII
In European countries, the dowry is known as money, property and goods given by the bride to the bridegroom. The term has different praxis in African societies. In Cameroon, the bridegroom provides the family of the bride with the dowry. It is more than establishing a bond between families through marriages. The dowry was primarily but not exclusively, a means by which the family of the wife to be could evaluate whether the suitor was financially capable of supporting their daughter or, a way to deter men preying on the family’s money. The dowry in Cameroon may have become in many instances, a slaving institution which has reached its climatic point with widowhood rites. It is also in many cases, the nexus of national and European prostitution. We will analyse to what extent on the one hand, family traditions, economic factors, sexual taboos, power struggle within the context of a few Southern communities in Cameroon could have set up a framework for alternative forms of modern slavery. On the other hand we shall look at women’s response to these controversial rituals.
3.10pm Hottentot Testimonial: Contemporary Art Re-visioning the Female Experience of Slavery
Zoe Whitley Curator of Contemporary Programmes at the V&A
The aim of this paper is to present visual art as an alternate means of conveying the trauma and legacies of slavery. Via the work of contemporary female artists Kara Walker, Zoe Charlton and Pélagie Gbaguidi (the work of the latter two being virtually unknown in the UK), I wish to explore their particular representations of slavery as examples of empathic witnessing. Can artistic licence ever be as valid as first-hand experience? I will argue that not unlike Harriet Jacobs’ autobiographical Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) and Olaudah Equiano’s now contested* The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789), the artists both express and empower the voiceless and invisible female slaves, past and present.
4pm Panel Discussion