When I was an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the early 1980s, the School had a motto: knowledge is power. Students of a radical inclination would denounce this explicit evocation of the School's imperial origins, and evidently the criticism took its toll.
The past year has seen an embarrassment of riches for those interested in the history of slavery and abolition.
Algeria was colonised and departmentalised by the French in the 19th century, and by 1954 around a million Algerians of European origin lived in the settler colony. Following a seven-and-a-half-year war against France, Algeria officially became independent in 1962.
In 2012 a host of commemorative events took place in France to mark the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence, an indication for some that decades of imposed silence and reticence on the part of those who experienced the pangs of decolonization were finally drawing to an end.
Although ostensibly a book focused on New Orleans, in Slavery’s Metropolis Rashauna Johnson uses the experiences of individuals and groups of African heritage who resided in the city, as well as those who left from, arrived in, and passed through from local and transnational locations to outline a theory of ‘confined cosmopolitanism’.
The publicity surrounding the German empire has not been good lately, to put it mildly. In August 2020, several hundred members of the far-right Reichsbürger (‘Reich Citizens’) group tried to storm the German parliament building in Berlin. They did so while holding the red, white, and black flags of Imperial Germany.