Legacies of slavery in a former slave-reservoir: the case of the Guéra region

Colosio, Valerio (2016) Legacies of slavery in a former slave-reservoir: the case of the Guéra region. In: Armstrong, C and Priyadarshini, J (eds.) Slavery: past, present and future. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 33-43. ISBN 9781848883994

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Legacies of slavery are a relevant social issue in Sahel, a region in continent of Africa. Exclusion from land ownership and marriage, as well as social stigma, are the more common modalities of slave-descendants’ marginalisation and are widespread all over the region. During the last thirty years, many civil society organisations based within slave descendant groups have been established to fight against these discriminations. However, these movements did not spread to the Guéra region, in central Chad, which is the focus of my work. This chapter investigates the strategies used by local people to deal with the legacies of slavery in the Guéra region, analysing the reasons that make this context different from other similar cases in Sahel. It argues that the Guéra region has traditionally been a slave-reservoir for the Wadai sultanate (the main pre-colonial political power) and presents the evolution of the region from pre-colonial to colonial times, focusing on the local land tenure system and colonial administrative arrangements as clues to explain the context. The French conquered the Guéra region at the beginning of the 20th century and put people locally labelled as slave-descendants, called Yalnas, in cantons, awarding them with the same rights they gave to the other groups of the region, including those over land. Thus, despite the social stigma, the Yalnas avoided the main form of discrimination, which is the exclusion from land ownership. They were, then, progressively integrated in the region through mixed marriages with the other groups; at the same time, their stigma did not fully disappear, and their rights have sometimes been challenged. Today, the Yalnas have intense interactions with other Guéra ethnic groups, both collaborative and conflictive. The social and ethnic landscape in Guera is complex as in many Sahel contexts, and the legacies of slavery are an important key in order to understand this complexity.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Valerio Colosio
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2019 09:46
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2019 09:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/81268

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