/ Forschung

Call: Mobility and Displacement in ‘Post-Slavery’ West Africa

Point Sud workshop (Bamako, 1-6 December 2020)


A South-South-North Dialogue on Concepts, Conflicts and Civic Engagement

This workshop of the “Program Point Sud”, funded by Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main and the German Research Foundation (DFG) focuses on the linkages between movement and legacies of slavery in contemporary West Africa, establishing analytical connections between migration, displacement studies and (post-) slavery studies. Our empirical point of departure is the aftermath of an ‘anti-slavery movement’ called Ganbana or Ganbanaaxu (Soninke: equality), which since 2017 has gained traction in the West African subregion and its worldwide diasporic ramifications. The movement demands equality and dignity for people categorized as descending from slaves (komo) vis-à-vis people of free descent, and in particular the dominant elite (hooro). Ganbana’s contestations over the meaning and value of ‘slave descendants’ have resulted in violent conflicts and forced displacements in the Kayes region of Mali and in several other Soninke areas in the Gambia, Senegal, Guinee Conakry and Mauritania.

Strategically based in Bamako, it will provide a forum for regional experts and civil society stakeholders to debate recent events, while also situating them in a wider perspective. The Ganbana case raises poignant questions about the contemporary legacies of internal slavery in relation to contexts – such as Soninke areas – strongly marked by mobility and diasporic relations. It interrogates the historical and contemporary role of human mobility in the social reproduction and contestation of (post)slavery. The workshop will thus invite discussion on the nexus between slavery and migration studies in Africa and the African diaspora. It will then broaden the conversation both historically and geographically in a bid to generate a south-south-north dialogue on long-term processes of silencing/contestation and integration/displacement in post-slavery societies. Returning to the region, the workshop will finally promote knowledge transfer among all stakeholders, bringing into focus the circumstances under which phenomena like Ganbana emerge and evolve over time.


All expenses related to the travel and stay in Bamako for accepted speakers will be covered by the Program Point Sud. Early-career scholars, and scholars from Africa, are particularly encouraged to propose a paper. The workshop is committed to promoting equal participation opportunities in terms of gender, religious and other socio-cultural differences. Paper proposals can be submitted in either English or French. We will provide translation assistance during the academic conference sessions. However, full participation in the wider workshop programme, including meetings with the regional civil society organizations, demands working knowledge of the French language.
Deadlines* Submission of proposals (max 500 words) and a short CV (max 2 pages): 7 June 2020 (by email to both organizers). Notification of Acceptance/Rejection: 30 June 2020 Deadline for full papers: 15 November 2020

*The exact dates might be revised in light of the COVID-19 evolution.