» International Seminar to explore slavery and its legacies in museums and sites
17.03.2018 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

International Seminar to explore slavery and its legacies in museums and sites

© Judith Lienert / Shutterstock.com - Cap 110 - Slaves memorial de l'Anse Caffard (Martinique)

The conference “Interpreting and Representing Slavery and Its Legacies in Museums and Sites: International Perspectives” will explore the variety of approaches used at museums and sites around the Atlantic world to represent the history and legacies of the slave trade, slavery and emancipation. With experts from around the world, the conference is the first international symposium of its kind hosted in North America (Charlottesville), from 19 to 22 March 2018.

UNESCO’s “Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage" in close collaboration with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), the University of Virginia (UVA) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will gather international museum and historic site practitioners, scholars, ICTs and digital multimedia technology experts and leaders of civil society organizations. They will exchange experiences and identified best practices on interpreting and representing slavery from different regions of the world.

“UNESCO works with its partners to make resistance against slavery an inspirational force for future generations. The seminar in Charlottesville is an example of the type of debate, and dialogue that we would like to encourage and contribute to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during this year,” says Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences .

“UVA is pleased to serve as host for this important conference,” explains Thomas C. Katsouleas, Executive Vice President and Provost. “UVA has been focused on actively pursuing and engaging in slavery’s history and relationship with place, on our Grounds and in our community. We hope to share our experiences and lessons learned with conference participants, and learn from them in turn.”

Participants will engage with questions on the topic, including:

  • What are the global impacts of the slave trade and its enduring legacies?
  • How have understandings and representations of slavery changed over the past decades and varied from region to region?
  • How are institutions portraying the horrors of slavery and reflecting the feelings, resistance and creativity of the enslaved people and their descendants?
  • As historical actors in slavery, what steps have universities taken toward repairing historic injustices and spearheading new research on slavery?
  • What roles do the arts, humanities and multimedia technologies play for interpreting and representing the memory of the history of slavery?

“History has shown that human conflict grows from the denial of the democratic principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect of all people, and by the acceptance through ignorance and prejudice the inequality of people and races,” says Bill Pencek, US/ICOMOS Executive Director. “US/ICOMOS hopes to encourage the public to learn from history, and not to commemorate its dark moments in ways that will promote social discord.”

Following the conference, a handbook on new approaches and best practices in interpreting and representing slavery at museums and other sites will be elaborated.

This meeting is organized in the context of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March 2018), the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (25 March 2018), and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration.

See also

Contact: Ali Moussa iye, a.moussa-iye(at)unesco.org

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