Freedom And Slavery In Africa

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1. Freedom was part of the colonial project and one of the most important justifications for the imperial occupation of Africa. The African continent was seen as an space of cruel slave domination. The slavery was understood as savagery, and the freedom as the main characteristic of the civilized world. Despite those interpretation, the relationship between freedom and slavery was less clear on the East African coast: ties originated from kinship and serfdom had a different meaning in this space. After the colonial presence in the Indian Ocean such relations were compressed into slavery and its legitimacy abolished in the sake of freedom and civilization. The Imperial civilizatory mission created and legitimized new forms of “free” labor, while…show more content…
Two points are very important for my research regard such process, the different notions of “freedom” and “free labor,” and the response from the local populations to the colonial law on the labor relations and recruitment means. In order of understand the impact of the abolition in this specific region, is necessary understand the local forms of slavery this means approaching to their very own meaning of “freedom.”

2. The indigenous categories of slavery were beyond such dichotomy. Moreover, such opposition had not necessarily the same significance for indigenous people. The great diversity of coerced labor was characterized by the importance of origins, gender and age among other features. According to such characteristics was the place occupied by slaves into specific societies. Different jobs were assigned to different people according they skills too. The Western image of slavery were slaves had not rights and slavers had power to decide the fate of their “property” is not an accurate description of the slavery in the Indian Ocean. The Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade had an impact on notions as slavery and freedom, arrangements within the households in which new members were
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The control of labor is the most important feature in any productive system. In the modern western world the wage and the law are the source of such legitimacy. Thus, under the freedom and the individual rights discourse, every person has the right and the obligation of working. When we try to understand the control of labor in the Indian Ocean, we can find as I said before, several forms of local slaveries, all those slaveries were “legal.” The main way to convert the exploitation in a legal form of labor is through the ideology (Cooper). If the ideology is effective the result is the domination. The ideology could come from customs, religious beliefs, or economic interest. Therefore, all the local forms of slavery from concubines to pawnship had legitimacy, despite such legitimacy not necessarily meant acceptance by the enslaved person. What I am trying to say is: slavery had an ideological framework in which the whole system rested. Consequently, when the Western abolition movement arrived in the Indian Ocean World (or other spaces beyond Americas) such framework was undermined because it was uncivilized. Instead, the new ideology of progress, civilization and freedom was established, into this new framework the freed slaves were not capable to enjoy completely their new status. They needed a process to “understand” the freedom, such necessity was translated in new forms of semi-free labor under the colonial law. Thus, the coerced labor was one of the expressions of
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