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Authoring Human Rights in West Africa and Beyond. Expressions of Slaveries in Literature (Texts) and the Arts (visual)

International conference on narratives on slavery and human rights

Info about event


Monday 30 January 2023, at 14:51 - Wednesday 1 February 2023, at 14:53


Cape Coast University, Ghana


School of Communication and Culture
Keynotes Laura Murphy and Samuel Okyere
Mads Anders Baggesgaard
Boluwatifo Akinro and Raquel Lima
Emmanuel Saboro
Akua Bobson, Inés García Saillard and Anne Green Munk
Samuel Okyere
“The Slaves”, Play by Mohammed ben-Abdallah, performed by Students from the Department of Theater and Film Studies, Cape Coast University
William Nsubian Gmayi at Elmina Castle
Kofi Anyidoho reading “Gathering the Harvest Dance” at Elmina Castle
Conference dinner

January 30, Monday


8.00-9.00: Morning coffee and registration

9.00-9.30: Opening talk and welcome, by Emmanuel Saboro, Lotte Pelckmans and Karen-Margrethe Simonsen

9.30-10.00: Invocation: “Ancestral Roll Call” [Video]

(Dramatization of a recorded poem written by Kofi Anyidoho (Published in The Place We Call Home

& Other Poems). Performed by the Poet, Abdul Moomen, Nana Asaase & Osei Korankye on Seprewa)

Brief Introductory Statement by Kofi Anyidoho (Poet, Prof. of Literature, English Dep., University of Ghana-Legon)

Questions & Comments by Audience

Chair: Emmanuel Saboro

10.00-10.15: Break

10.15-11. 45: Keynote Laura Murphy (Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University, UK).

“The Uses and Abuses of Survivor Testimony”

Chair: Mads Anders Baggesgaard

11.15-11.45: Break

11.45-13.15: Session 1: Slavery: Metaphors, Narratives and Media

Chair: Karen-Margrethe Simonsen

Malik Ade (Germany): “The Thin Line Between: Child Marriage and Child Labour as Metaphors of Slavery in Abi Dare’s The Girl With the Louding Voice

Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang (Ghana): “Dark clouds grumbling overhead meant today was going to be a bad day”: Marginalization and Servitude in Ghanaian Digital Spaces”

Mads Anders Baggesgaard (Denmark): Human Rights and Melodrama in Movies

13.15-14.15: Lunch

14.15-15.45: Session 2: Afterlives of Slavery and New Humanitarianism

Chair: Anne Green Munk

Dominic Rainsford (Denmark): “Ethical Literary Criticism and Slaveries of the Past and Present: Blake, Opie, and the Engaged Humanities”

Samuel Ato Bentum (Ghana): “F(l)ight as traumatic surviving strateg(y)ies in Moussa Toure’s La Pirogue and Ike Nnaebue’s No U-Turn”

Philomena Mintah (Ghana): “Censorship or Forgotten? A Study of the Treatment of Slavery in selected Ghanaian Novels on Slavery”

15.45- 16.00: Break

16.15-18.00: “The Slaves”, Play by Mohammed ben-Abdallah, performed by Students from the Department of Theater and Film Studies, Cape Coast University

18.15: Dinner at Campus


January 31, Tuesday

9.00-10.30: Keynote Samuel Okyere (PhD, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies, University of Bristol, UK)

“Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero” – child workers’ and marginalised communities’ perspectives on freedom and neo-abolitionism”

Chair Emmanuel Saboro

10.30-11.00: Break

11.00-12.00: Session 3: Imperialism, Postcolonialism and Slavery

Chair: Lotte Pelckmans

Philip Kaisary (Canada): “Law and Black Agency in Memories of Abolition: Human Rights and Slavery Movies.”

Emil Elg (Denmark): “Representations of Enslavement in Danish Portraiture from the 17th and 18th Centuries”

12.00-13.00: Lunch

13.00-14.15: Session 4: Human Rights for the Future: Education and Technology

Chair: Karen-Margrethe Simonsen

Moussa Traoré (Ghana): “Postcoloniality, Technology and Slavery”

Amos Adekunle Adediran and Oluwamayowa Adisa Adebayo (Nigeria)

“Adult Literacy as a Valuable Tool for Sustainable Human Rights among Part-Time Students of Higher Institutions in Oyo State, Nigeria”

14.30: Trip to Elmina Castle

At Elmina Castle:

William Nsubian Gmayi (Ghana Museums and Monuments Board):

“Elmina Castle: a vestige of African-European Relations on the Gold Coast”

Kofi Anyidoho (Poet, Prof. of Literature, University of Ghana-Legon):

A reading-performance of “Gathering the Harvest Dance”.

(A poem originally written on request and performed by Kofi Anyidoho & Hip-Life Artist Obour as part of a major performance event at Elmina Castle commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, under the auspices of the British Council. 2007).

The poem is published in Anyidoho’s collection The Place We Call Home & Other Poems.

17.00: Drink at Elmina Hotel

18.30: Dinner at Elmina Hotel


February 1, Wednesday

9.00-10.30: Session 5: Oral and Verbal Memories of Slavery

Chair: Laura Murphy

Boluwatifo Akinro (Germany): “Fictive Kinship and the Vestiges of Slavery in a Yorùbá Town”

Raquel Lima: (Portugal) “Orature and Literature in ‘Tafua’ from Săo Tomé and Príncipe”

Tunde Awosanmi (Nigeria): “Authoring Slaveries: Slavery and Colonial Slavery in Biyi Bandele’s Drama and Prose.”

10.30-11.00: break

11.00-12.00: Lotte Pelckmans (Denmark)

Chair: William Nsubian Gmayi

Intro, Screening and Discussion of Documentary Movie (25 minutes)

Working Title: Descent-based Slavery & fugitive displacements:

Neo-abolitionist quests for equality (Gambana) in Mali. 

Script and production: Lotte Pelckmans

12.00-13.00: Lunch

13.00-14.00: Session 6: Abolitionism and Religion

Chair: Samuel Okyere

Uche Uwaezuoke Okonkwo (Nigeria): “Christian Missionaries Culpability in Post Abolition Slavery in Eastern Nigeria 1857 to 1956”

Cherisse Francis (UK): “Breaking the chains: a re-examination of religion, race and sex in the Anglophone Caribbean; points of restraint and resistance from Transatlantic Slavery to Trafficking in Persons”

14.00-14.15: break

14.15-15.45: Session 7: Creativity and slavery

Chair: Helen Yitah

Inés García Saillard (Spain): “Beyond the official story: Rebuilding History of Slavery”

Akua Bobson (Ghana): “Trauma & its Manifestations Among Descendants of Enslaved Africans and Descendants of Remnant Africans”

Anne Green Munk (Denmark): “Songs of slavery and freedom – a travel novel and a piece of artistic research in one”

15.45-16.00: Break

16.00- 16.45: Closing session. Publication and future collaboration.

Presentation of plans for publication at Cambridge Publishing House

Participants may briefly present ongoing projects and research centers of relevance to future collaboration


Organization of conference

The conference is organized within the framework of a larger research project with the title Authoring Slavery, hosted by Aarhus University Denmark (PI. Mads Anders Baggesgaard). This collective research project with participation of researchers from Denmark and Ghana engages with contemporary imprints of the complex history of slavery in Ghana, https://cc.au.dk/en/centre-for-the-study-of-the-literatures-and-cultures-of-slavery.


Organizers of the conference are:

Emmanuel Saboro, Senior Lecturer, Centre for African and International Studies, University of Cape Coast, Ghana,esaboro@ucc.edu.gh

Lotte Pelckmans, Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (Lotte Pelckmans pelckmans@hum.ku.dk

Karen-Margrethe Simonsen, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, Denmark (litkms@cc.au.dk)

The research project and the conference are supported by the Independent Research Fund, Denmark.