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A Nonevent of Note: On Reading the Indemnification of the Formerly Enslaved in Colonial Senegal

Thursday Lecture Series

dateOctober 26, 2023 timeThursday, 12:15pm–2:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Cover for a school notebook by Georges Dascher

The Society of Fellows hosts the Thursday Lecture Series (TLS), which runs regularly throughout the academic year. The Fall Semester TLS, our Fellows present their own work, chaired by Columbia faculty.

A Nonevent of Note: On Reading the Indemnification of the Formerly Enslaved in Colonial Senegal

Lecture by A. Véronique Charles
Chaired by Joseph Howley

In this talk, A. Véronique Charles lingers over documentations of indemnities granted to the enslaving elite in French colonial Senegal for emancipation in 1848. Her methodological approach counters the overwhelmingly marginal treatment of this historical instance in scholarly literature. Indeed, legal abolition in Senegal animates the linking and delinking of chattel slavery with or from the concept of blackness, Africa, and, concomitantly, Africans. Charles argues that post-emancipation Senegal brings into relief racialization in regions too often predetermined by the concept of blackness and yet overlooked as sites of chattel enslavement. Her counterintuitive deployment of the nonevent serves as an analytic to interpret this formal bracketing of slavery’s past and interpolates African sites of the abolition into a broader critical discourse that underscores the constitutive failures of legal emancipation. Charles concludes this talk with a consideration of the extent to which the ruses of abolition in Senegal could have served as a useable past that portends the emancipatory limitations of constitutional decolonization on the continent.

This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.