Film premiere: 'Ganbanaaxun Fedde: a transnational anti-slavery movement’ (36min.)
By Lotte Pelckmans, discussant: Paolo Gaibazzi.
This movie links a transnational social movement that fights against legacies of internal African slavery, with contemporary rural displacements in Mali.
The movement called Ganbanaaxun Fedde (meaning the 'federation of equality' in Soninke) gained momentum from late 2016 among diasporic Soninke-speaking groups, who act and speak up against their ongoing discrimination based on the internal African slave past. The movements’ steering committee is based in a central hub for the Soninke diapora: Paris. Through the clever use of WhatsApp groups, ambitious Mauritanian students in Paris succeeded in obtaining active members among people categorised as kome in West Africa. ‘Kome’ literally means ‘enslaved’ but continues to be used to refer to the supposed ‘descendants of formerly enslaved’ among Soninke speakers in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and their worldwide diasporas.
The movie is based on interviews with activists and those displaced due to their activism. It also documents some of the polarizing dynamics generated by – both on- and offline –anti-slavery resistance and the struggle for equality. While the movement is transregional and transnational, the focus is on four cases from Western Mali, documenting struggles over land, endogamy, incarceration and displacement.
Trigger warning for attending audiences and students. We would like to disclose that some audiences may find the verbal and visual content of this movie triggering or offensive as it contains polarized discourses and visual representations of violence. The material includes content that touches on: physical beating, images of destruction of villages and property, demonstrations of people showing posters with wounded people, pictures of a woman who got killed. We ask attending audiences who may feel triggered, overwhelmed, or panicked by the content to take the necessary steps for their emotional safety. This may include withdrawing from the presentation or reaching out to one of the event organisers for support.
Lotte Pelckmans is an anthropologist working on social inequality, hierarchical societies, gender, testimony, diaspora, and mobilization at the crossroads of (post-)slavery and migration studies, mainly in francophone West Africa. She finished her master’s and PhD at Leiden University (Anthropology, African Studies Centre) and was an assistant professor at Nijmegen University (Anthropology and Development Studies). In 2012 she did an EU-funded postdoc in Paris (CEAF, EHESS). Between 2013-2014, she was recruited as an assistant professor at the Institute for History at Leiden University (2013-2014). After moving to Denmark in 2016, she had an appointment at the Danish Institute for International Studies (2015-2016) and co-edited the documentary movie ‘River Nomads’, about the transnational mobility of nomadic fishermen in West Africa (Nigeria, Niger, Mali). From 2017 she has been employed at the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, Copenhagen University (DK). In 2019 she was a senior Heinz Heinen fellow at the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), Germany, and in early 2020, she started working as an associate professor and Co-I on a GCRF/UKRI UK-funded research project, about the historical and contemporary displacements of so-called ‘descendants of the enslaved’ in Mali, West Africa. She made a documentary movie about the role of resistance and activism in these displacements. Currently, she is collaborating on the project Authoring Slavery, with a focus on Ghanaian NGO’s (visual) narratives of exploitation and invisibility among (mainly) women. These projects question ways in which the African slave past reverberates and haunts contemporary moral regimes of voice and (legal) representation regulating citizenship, resistance and mobilities.
Paolo Gaibazzi is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bologna. He is the author of Bush Bound: Young Men and Rural Permanence in Migrant West Africa (Berghahn 2015), and co-editor of EurAfrican Borders and Migration Management (Palgrave 2017). In addition to regimes of im/mobility, Gaibazzi has published extensively on post-slavery and on economies of fate, fortune and potentiality in West Africa and the West African diaspora.