Meeting of the International Scientific Committee of UNESCO Slave Route project in Port-Louis (Republic of Mauritius), 27-29 November 2017

The statutory meeting of the renewed International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage was held in Port Louis, from 27 to 29 November 2017.

Three Ministers attended the opening session of the meeting, which was hosted and sponsored by the Ministry of Arts and Culture. The meeting was well covered by the national radio and television as well as by the press. The Director of the regional Office of Nairobi, Ms Ann Therese made the opening speech on behalf of UNESCO and participated in the discussions of the Committee.

In the course of the meeting, the newly appointed members of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) were presented. The ISC has been renewed by half and counts among its new members prominent researchers such as Ana Lucia Araujo (Brazil), historian and professor of History at Howard University, Abubakar Babajo Sani (Nigeria), historian and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Umaru Musa Yar'adua University in Katsina, Gerardo Maloney (Panama), sociologist and founder of the “Sociological review of Panama”, Aurelia Martin Casares (Spain), professor at the University of Granada in Historical Anthropology, Chapurukha Kusimba (Kenya), professor at the American University, Abdi Kusow (Somalia), who is Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Iowa State University and Sonjah Stanley Niaah (Jamaica), senior lecturer at the University of West Indies in Mona, and the director of the Reggae Studies Unit of the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

During the meeting, the ISC’s members examined the activities undertaken by the Slave Route project. They exchanged ideas and suggestions on how to extend partnership and mobilize funding for the Project to better contribute to the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

The ISC have also debated the institutions of slavery that continue to exist in the present day, such as modern forms of slavery and exploitation. In response to the alarming events in Libya and to the practices of enslavement of African migrants, the Committee decided to transmit a Declaration to UNESCO’ Director General. Another important highlight was the social and pedagogical roles of Museums as vectors for intercultural dialogue and fight against racism, discrimination, and oblivion in our contemporary societies.

On 28th November, a special event was organized at the World heritage Site of Le Morne Brobant, in collaboration with the Ministry of Arts and Culture, Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund and the Village Council of Le Morne. The objective of the event was to launch “Heritages of Slavery”, a Resource Book developed by UNESCO to reinforce the capacity of managers of sites of memory related to slavery. A live stream of the event where ensured by the Mauritius national television which allowed UNESCO’s partners across the world to follow the ceremony. In addition to the Minister of Arts and Culture, the Deputy Director General participated in the event and made a speech.

The Scientific Committee animated a public Conference co-organized by UNESCO with the University of Mauritius on the 29th November to exchange with scholars, students and journalists interested in the issues of slavery and its consequences in modern societies.

In addition to the Le Morn site, the members of the Committee visited the other Mauritian’s World Heritage site : the Apravasi Ghat dedicated to the memory of the Indentured labor.

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