History, Memories, and Legacies of Slavery in the Gulf

AHA Session 135
Friday, January 4, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Wilson Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
John Thabiti Willis, Carleton College
The Audience

Session Abstract

Views of slavery and its demise vary within and between societies as does the ways in which people relate to the history, memories, and legacies of slavery. Scholarship and museums devoted to slavery have been sites of vigorous debate in the western world. The case is altogether different in the Gulf region, where the relationship of slavery to notions of race and ethnicity has not historically been a matter of public debate. This panel draws on archival materials (British manumission records), media sources (newspaper reports and social media posts), data analytics (qdl.qa site), interviews with scholar consultants and Afro-Arab advocacy groups, museum brochures and tours to some of the wide-ranging meanings of slavery in the Gulf region. One presentation focuses the silences in the testimonies of enslaved women that British agents recorded. Two other presentations focus on the Bin Jelmood House, a museum in Doha, Qatar devoted to the history, memories, and legacies of slavery. Taken together, the three presentations grapple with a multitude of meanings of slavery for enslaved peoples, their descendants, and others whose relationship to slavery is more elusive. Is there an African diaspora in the Middle East? What have been the relationship of slavery museums, public history, and genealogical research? Does the history of human enslavement end with shared freedom and responsibility? What factors inform how which and how contemporary societies grapple with the memories and legacies of slavery?
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