Gradhiva - Revue d'anthropologie et d'histoire des arts
File : mémoire de l'esclavage au Bénin. Le passé à venir
Gaetano Ciarcia, Introduction
Robin Law, Commemoration of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Ouidah
This paper considers local memory and commemoration of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Ouidah. It is shown that originally the slave trade was remembered in Ouidah essentially positively, as a source of material benefits, and there was open acknowledgement of the role of local agency in the operation of the trade. The Musée d'Histoire established in 1967 shifted the emphasis to the cultural interactions with the Americas (especially Brazil) which resulted from the slave trade, but still maintained an essentially celebratory attitude. The 'Slave Route' project initiated in 1992/3, however, again shifted the focus to the sufferings of the enslaved victims, and hence to a more negative view of the trade. There remained elements of continuity, however, in the continued acknowledgement of African agency and interest in Africa's relationship with its American Diaspora.