Slavery Memories in Literature, Arts and Museums

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Benaouda LEBDAI Le Mans Univerisity

International Conference


Abomey-Calavi University (UAC) / Le Mans University


February 5th, 6thand 7th2020


Slavery Memories in Literature, Arts and Museums 


            This conference on memories of slavery, jointly organized by Abomey-Calavi University and Le Mans University, will be held in Abomey-Calavi and Ouidah (the door of no-return), in Benin on February 5, 6, 7, 2020. This scientific meeting aims at promoting a comparative approach to the memories of slavery, from the historical slavery site of Ouidah, on the East Coast of Benin which was one of the most tragic routes of slavery. The purpose of the conference is to question the memory processes of slavery in Benin and other countries in West Africa – including Ghana and Senegal –, and to analyse this tragic past through its representations in contemporary arts including literature, plastic arts, films, as well as in-depth studies of their historiographical discourse. Representations of the ‘middle passage’, of the enslaved and slave traders will be discussed through the analysis of artistic projects and literary works (novels, life writings, autobiographies, biographies). They will address the ethical issues underlying the construction of these images and their impact on subsequent generations on both sides of the Atlantic by comparing documents from the slavery period to the 21stcentury.  

In the field of African, African-American, Afro-European literatures, writers express the need to retrieve a repressed history from the colonial period by reconstructing peoples’ history from the memory traces of the enslaved and their descendants. This conference will examine the affect and politics of memory in narratives that provide new insight into the roles of the enslaved and freedmen in a History that has brought Africans, Europeans, Americans, and Brazilians closer to each other.

This conference will integrate research on popular music and orality through tales or proverbs, considered as an area of subversion helping the scattered populations to maintain a link with the past and to pass on the local traditions to their place of origin. A comparative approach with the Spanish-American cultures, for instance, will help envisage the different policies of memorialization (namely the notion of “compensation”) and provide an interdisciplinary view about Africa, North America, South America and Europe. 

            From theNational Museum of African American History and Culture(Washington) to the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris), from the Memorial for the abolition of Slavery (Nantes) to the House of Slaves (Gorée Island), from the Old Fort of Zanzibar to Cape Coast Castle (Ghana), from theMuseum do Negro (Rio de Janeiro) to the MuséeOgier Fombrun (Haïti), from the route of no-return of Ouidah (Benin)where the conference will be held, mediation activities and museum scenography provide case studies in the context of the return of stolen African works of arts to African countries, decided by France. Benin was the first country to demand the return of its works of art, and it is the first country to get back nineteen works of art from France. 

This international conference aims at addressing viewpoints on the imagination of slavery shaped by texts and images from the colonial era to the postcolonial one. It has also to do with the identification of the oversights of slavery history by questioning the official and/or popular memory processes, from historical places like the one of the slave route of Ouidah in Benin. 



The conference has many goals:

-       Reinforcing knowledge on centuries of slavery, spaces, figures and events which troubled the world during the tragedy. 

-       Popularizing old and fresh information on slavery.

-       Summarizing objectively the memories of slavery seen by researchers from all fields. 

-      Making known historical slave spots such as Ouidah and Porto-Novo in Benin.


Participation conditions:

The conference is open to anyone from cultural, historical, political, artistic, touristic and spiritual spheres as well as those who aspire to acquire better knowledge on slave trade, its achievements and drawbacks inherited by countries involved or concerned. The organization committee will take care of the conference activities. Nevertheless, participants have to pay a minimum fee after the abstract proposal is accepted at the latest on November 15th, 2019. The participation fixed sum is as follows:   

-       10.000 F CFA (15 euros) for PhD students and students;

-       20.000 F CFA (30 euros) for international participants

-       30.000 F CFA for other national participants (scholars, lecturers and researchers)   

The fixed sum covers the participant’s kit, admission to the panels, to workshops, and special events, as well as shuttles to the conference venues. A scanned copy must be sent to The mandatory non-refundable registration fee must be paid immediately upon the acceptance of the abstract in the bank account of Bank of Africa N°003833780001 (BOA). Registration fee also includes breakfast and lunch, and a closing celebration at Ouidah beach including dinner with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Abomey-Calavi and other personalities. All participants must raise the funding to attend the conference, including the flight ticket and accommodation. 

For further information, please write to colloque_lemans_fllac@uac.bjor benaouda.lebdai@gmail.comor phone to+229 976 095 68 or+229 958 303 10.


Main activities

During the three days, various events will be organized which allow participants not only to learn, exchange, but also enjoy their time during the breaks and dinner times. 

The conference holding includes among others: 

-      Communications / debates in the above-mentioned languages; 

-      Artistic performances;

-      Touring in Ouidah and Porto-Novo;

-      Music, dances & choreographies;

-      Exhibition of works of art in Ouidah on the second and third days.

-      Fair of products made in Benin in Ouidah.


The official conference opening will be held on the 5thFebruary 2020 at 9 a.m at the ‘Idriss Deby’ Amphitheatre of the University of Abomey-Calavi. Then, all the presentations will be held in Ouidah. During the conference, the organizing committee intends to let participants discover some artistic performance through dance and music from Benin. 

Organizing committee

-      President: Professor Okri Pascal TOSSOU, University of Abomey-Calavi/Benin

-      Vice-president:ProfessorBenaouda LEBDAI, Le Mans University/France 


-      Organizing members

  • Professor Delphine LETORT, Executive Manager of 3L.AM Laboratory, Le Mans University / France
  • Professor Flavien GBETO, University of Abomey-Calavi
  • Dr Célestin GBAGUIDI, University of Abomey-Calavi
  • Dr Alfred DJOSSOU, University of Abomey-Calavi
  • Dr Charles Dossou LIGAN, University of Abomey-Calavi


International scientific committee 

-      Professor Maxime da CRUZ, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Flavien GBETO, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Benaouda LEBDAI, Le Mans University

-      Professor Delphine LETORT, Le Mans University 

-      ProfessorEliane ELMALEH, Le Mans University 

-      Professor Augustin AÏNAMON, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Léonard KOUSSOUHON, University ofAbomey-Calavi

-      Professor Pierre MEDEHOUEGNON, University ofAbomey-Calavi

-      Professor Médard Dominique BADA, Université d’Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Laure Clémence CAPO-CHICHI ZANOU, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Okri Pascal TOSSOU, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Professor Serpos TIDJANI, University of Abomey-Calavi 

-      Dr Vincent ATABAVIKPO, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Julien GBAGUIDI, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Rogatien TOSSOU, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Romuald TCHIBOZO, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Didier M. HOUENOUDE, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Didier N’DAH, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Innocent S. KOUTCHADE, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Célestin AMOUSSOU, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Simplice AGOSSAVI, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Bellarmin CODO, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Charles Dossou LIGAN, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Célestin GBAGUIDI, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Ferdinand KPOHOUE, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Anicette QUENUM, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Vinakpon Marcel HOUNDEFO, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Marius SOHOUDE, University of Abomey-Calavi

-      Dr Dieudonné GNANMMAKOU, University of Abomey-Calavi


Email your proposals to: colloque_lemans_fllac@uac.bjand