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African Diaspora Newsletter No.10 - Conferences


This fall, the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre and the Department of History will host a conference that aims at bringing scholars together from different fields to share their knowledge on various themes about Slavery, Islam and Diaspora. The conference is mainly organized by the graduate students at the Resource Centre. Committee members are PhD candidates in the Department of History and include Alia Paroo, who looks at Ismailis in Eastern Africa, specifically Tanzania. Bashir Salau explores the Hausa diaspora and social history of Northern Nigeria. Behnaz Mirzai, who researches abolition practices and the slave trade in Iran from 1849-1928. Ismael M. Montana studies slave religious practices in Tunisia. Jennifer Lofkrantz researches ethnicity and gender in the Slave Trade between the Western Sudan and Morocco. Josť Cairus investigates Muslim communites that were created in Brazil during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The connections between Slavery, Islam and the African Diaspora are amongst questions that now draw the attention of historians. This conference will link the trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean trades to other slave routes, following the intiatives of the UNESCO Slave Route Project and explore the impact of the forced migration of enslaved Africans throughout the modern world. Beside the Atlantic slave trade to the Americas, enslaved Africans crossed the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean into the the Islamic world. Many of the enslaved Africans taken across these routes, as well as a significant number of those who crossed the Atlantic, were from Muslim communities.

The movement of enslaved Africans, over centuries has had an important impact in shaping the modern Muslim world and in the conversion of many people to Islam. Likewise, enslaved Muslims from Dar al-Islam (the world of Islam) occupied a unique place within the Atlantic slave trade. Yet until recently, the Muslim factor in the movement of enslaved Africans to the Muslim world and of Muslim slaves transported from Africa to the Americas has not received the attention it deserves. The recent discovery of significant Arabic documents in the Americas left by enslaved Muslims and the wealth of Arabic materials from Timbuktu, the Maghreb, and Ottoman Sources challenges scholars and students of Atlantic history to rethink connections between Africa, the Americas and religious and ideological development, especially in the western Sudan.

Given the divergence of the Islamic element in the slave trade, this conference will give the unique opportunity to unite scholars of the trans-Atlantic, trans-Saharan, and Indian Ocean slave trades to discuss issues of commonality and difference. As such, a plenary session will discuss the major trends in issues and themes of different aspects of the slave trade. Scholars working on the Muslim element of the slave trade are widely scatterd as are the research materials they are uncovering. Scholars in attendance will represent North and West Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America and the Caribbean. For more information on how you may attend this conference or to view abstracts, please visit http://www.yorku.ca/nhp/conferences/york2003/index.htm Registration information is also available from the site.

Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173