Les Anneaux de la Mémoire
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|Formation||1991, Nantes, France|
|Legal status||Association loi 1901|
|Purpose||History of the slave trade and slavery. Consequences and contemporary legacy.|
|Headquarters||Espace Cosmopolis - 18 rue Scribe 44000 Nantes, France|
The Shackles of Memory Association (Les Anneaux de la Mémoire in French-speaking countries) is a non-profit association registered under the Law on Associations of 1901, whose aim is to bring closer to the general public the history of the slave trade, slavery and their modern consequences, in order to promote new partnerships on a fair and respectful basis, between the societies of Africa, the Americas and Europe.
It is also dedicated to studying and bringing a new light on some elements in the history of various towns and regions from all around the world. It first directed its attention to the city and region of Nantes (France) and its historical link to slavery. The Association is also active at international level by providing support to anyone interested in doing research on those dark chapters of human history.
Shared values of liberty, respect, equality and solidarity and a concern for scientific accuracy in its understanding of historical, social and economic factors are core principles that underpin the Association's work and projects.
In choosing its name “Shackles of Memory”, the Association intended to:
- recall the captives' shackles in African caravans, on slave ships and on plantations in the New World;
- evoke the links in the historical chain which the populations concerned can relate to;
- highlight the alliances which the people of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans can initiate for a renewed triangle cooperation based on respectful and prosperous relationships.
- 1 History
- 2 Initiatives and Achievements
- 2.1 Exhibitions
- 2.2 Educational Activities
- 2.3 Historical Research Publications
- 2.4 International Conferences
- 2.5 Data Base
- 3 International Activities
- 3.1 Partnerships with UNESCO
- 3.2 A Special Bond with the Republic of Haiti
- 3.2.1 The « Committee of Reflection on French-Haitian Relations » presided by Régis Debray
- 3.2.2 The Society of Friends of the Haitian Republic
- 3.2.3 The Shackles of Memory Journal on Haiti
- 3.2.4 Exhibition in Haiti for the bicentennial of Haitian independence
- 3.2.5 Cultural Support Program for the Shackles of Memory in Haiti
- 3.2.6 Development Assistance Program
- 3.3 Participation in various Development Programs
- 3.4 Partnership with the Pays-de-la-Loire-Region and Cameroon Association
- 3.5 The Shackles of Memory International Alliance (SMIA)
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The Shackles of Memory Association was created in Nantes (France) in the early 1990s. It was indeed the history of the city and its region, coupled with the amnesia of this history, that prompted the creation of the Association. Because they loved their city and wished to change the general denial of its past, the founders of the Shackles of Memory worked with the intention to bring Nantes and its inhabitants to confront their history, convinced as they were that memory can only bring better understanding to the world.
Nantes, a Slave Port
As early as the Middle Ages, Nantes established itself as a trading post for salt and wines with the rest of Europe. Its commercial and maritime rise took place at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. Navigation and deep-sea fishing, especially cod fishing in the Newfoundland waters, developed, and Nantes also fit out a few privateer ships. Finally, exchanges with the first colonized territories became more numerous. In the 18th century, Nantes embarked in trading with the colonies and in the more risky, but often more profitable, triangular trade.
The triangle trade was not Nantes's only outlet, but the high number of ships fit out there for the slave trade compared to other cities in the kingdom gave Nantes the reputation of the chief port for “ebony” traders (“ebony” was a common euphemism used by the slave traders to refer to black slaves). The slave trade is considered today to have been the main driving force in Nantes's maritime expansion, in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- From 1700 to 1750, Nantes operated the 2/3 of the French slave trade.
- After 1815, when the trade was carried on illegally, Nantes fit out almost 70% of the French slave ships.
- 1709 out of 4420 French slave trade expeditions departed from Nantes (about 40%), which means that about 450 000 black people were transported between the 16th and the 19th centuries by slave shipowners from Nantes only.
The Difficult Memory of the Slave Trade and Slavery
The study of the slave trade shows many of the pitfalls inherent to the “duty of memory” on the dark chapters of History: How to establish a history with a firmer ground in attested facts out of fragments of collective memory, and to do so without giving way to simplistic ideologies, nor allowing political issues to encroach upon historians' work. The Association strongly believes that in Nantes as in all other territories once involved in the triangular trade, any tendency to read the memory of the slave trade simply as the memory of the liberation of the slaves should be resolutely opposed.
It is the Association's belief that pragmatic solutions are sooner to be found in varied and uninhibited historical research than in apparent political reconciliations which often overlook the issue of memory. That is why the Association is involved in a number of research projects and supports original instructive outreach activities, focused on the most recent discoveries in the memories of slavery. These vary according to where the events took place. Therefore, the Association has established partnerships with universities from the three continents formerly involved in the triangular trade, the better to study the history of the slave trade as well as its consequences: this project includes the history of racisms, of miscegenation as well as the unique cultural exchanges which developed on each continent. The Association's goal is to turn what used to be the shackles of the slaves into a historical chain that could help avoid hatred towards the enemies of yesterday as well as anachronistic, artificial penitence for the past. By encouraging the heirs of this past to look back with a new gaze and to fully acknowledge a painful history, the Shackles of Memory also seek to unite all peoples in one shared act of memory.
Creation of the Association
While the French Association Triangle d'Ebène was celebrating the tricentennial of the Code Noir (Black Code) in Nantes in 1985, more than a hundred highly acclaimed historians from around the world were gathered at the University of Nantes for an international conference on the slave trade (“De la traite à l'esclavage”, “From the Slave Trade to Slavery”). This was the first time such a major event had taken place in France on the subjects of slavery and the slave trade. This event resulted in the creation of the Shackles of Memory Association by citizens from Nantes who cared to break the silence surrounding these issues and to do justice to the victims of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery. The Shackles of Memory were officially registered as an association under the French law of 1901 on associations in February 1991. The Shackles of Memory aim at reviving the memory and history of the slave trade – which was considered legal until 1815, and illegal afterwards but was still practiced in France until 1830– and to do so in conjunction with communities, cultural organizations and citizens linked to that history (in France and French overseas territories, in Africa and in America).
The Shackles of Memory Exhibition
In the early 1990s, the Shackles of Memory Association, with the support of the municipality of the time, presented a great historical exhibition on the triangular trade and the role played by Nantes in it, at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany). The exhibition was widely acclaimed in Nantes and, thanks to the support of the United Nations for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in all of the African, American and European countries linked to the Slave Route Project.
Since then, the Association has developed and increased the number of its initiatives both in France and abroad, focusing on the best way to provide material to a general audience of all ages and to more specialized history researchers.
Initiatives and Achievements
Ever since its creation, the Association launched a wide range of cultural initiatives such as exhibitions in France and abroad, international conferences and colloquiums among other pedagogical activities. The Association also publishes its own journal and takes part in other types of articles and research publications. It provides material support to cultural and touristic development projects and policies with the help of its members and international contacts.
The Shackles of Memory Exhibition (Nantes, Château des Ducs de Bretagne, 1992-1994 - "Les Anneaux de la Mémoire")
Nantes was one of the main slave ports in Europe in the 18th century. It was for this reason, and in order to come to terms with this chapter of history and spread awareness, that the Shackles of Memory Exhibition was organized. It was the largest international exhibition to have taken place surrounding these issues. Its goal was to trace back the history of the Transatlantic slave trade such as it was operated by Europeans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It was presented at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes, from December 1992 through May 1994 and attracted over 400 000 visitors.
The Exhibition catalogue and a DVD featuring the themes tackled by the Exhibition were released by the Association on this occasion.
Exhibitions in France and Abroad
After its first exhibition, the Association was approached by several organizations and citizens from countries all around the Atlantic Ocean and called on to host or set up exhibitions and/or museums surrounding these themes.
On the theme of the slave trade:
- in Ouidah (Benin)
- in Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville (Republic of Congo)
- in Luanda (Angola)
- at the Villèle Museum, in Réunion (French overseas territory)
- in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), in 2004
- in Bamendjinda (Cameroon), since 2009
- in Paimboeuf (France), in 2010
- in Dschang (Cameroon), since 2010
On the theme of migrations:
- “Mémoires de migrations. Tolérance, intolérance” (Memories of Migrations: Tolerance and Intolerance), an exhibition shown in Nantes (France) from October 1998 through March 1999.
- a double touring exhibition entitled “Des bords de Loire aux rives du Mississippi” (From the banks of the River Loire to the banks of the Mississippi River”, which was presented in France and in the United States (Louisiana, Texas and Florida) in 1999 and 2000;
- the exhibition “De Fort-Caroline (1654) à la vente de la Louisiane (1803)” (From Fort-Caroline (1654) to the Louisiana Purchase (1803)), presented in Florida in 2000.
The Shackles of Memory also set up an educational exhibition about Nantes and the slave trade entitled: “Nantes regarde son histoire du 15ème au 21ème siècle” (Nantes looks back on its history from the 15th to the 21st century). This exhibition was first set up in 2004 and led to a second edition in 2008. It can be freely used by any teachers, cultural centers, associations or communities interested.
Awareness raising campaigns for a museum on the slave trade and slavery in Nantes
As early as 1994, following the Shackles of Memory Exhibition, the Association – along with other associations from Nantes (such as Mémoires d'Outre Mer, Métisse à Nantes, etc.) – launched an awareness raising campaign and started lobbying local authorities in order to promote the creation of a great international museum on the slave trade and slavery in Nantes. The International Slavery Museum of Liverpool (UK), a first in Europe in this field, was created out of a similar impulse in 2007, as the United Kingdom was celebrating the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade.
Since its creation, the Shackles of Memory Association has endeavored to bring historical knowledge into general use and to make the history of the slave trade, slavery and their modern consequences more accessible. Today, the Association offers several activities surrounding these subjects.
School and Group Visits
The Association provides the opportunity for schoolchildren, students and other adult groups to go on guided tours of downtown Nantes to explore its historical past as a slave port, its architecture, and the way political and trading elites interacted in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially focusing on the issues of the slave trade, slavery and abolition. The tours also tackle the issue of memory in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A complementary guidebook featuring itineraries, comments and illustrations and entitled: “Barbechat, Nantes, Paimboeuf: sur les traces de la traite négrière” (the slave trade from Barbechat and Nantes to Paimboeuf) was published by the Association in May 2008. It was intended for individual visitors and tourists and provides all the information contained in the group tours. A shorter version, published jointly with the Nantes Tourist Office, is also available for free, both in French and English.
The Association's first educational activities were undertaken during the Shackles of Memory Exhibition at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. The popularity of this first initiative with children and adolescents, school groups and teachers led the Association to make a number of educational sets available to the public. These sets include a variety of documents (novels, children's books, historical surveys, comics, facsimiles and educational booklets) and are available for public use for an autonomous approach to this chapter of history with people of all ages.
These educational sets and exhibitions are available for rent. They are intended for school groups from elementary school (4th grade) to high school and also for the general public. They can be borrowed by schools, multimedia libraries, recreation centers and other associations.
Historical Research Publications
The Shackles of Memory Journal
A Journal (in French), entitled « Les Cahiers des Anneaux de la Mémoire » (The Shackles of Memory Journal), is published by the Association. It focuses on the themes of the slave trade, slavery and their modern consequences. This annual journal is released by the Shackles of Memory Association in conjunction with Karthala Editions (Paris). Each issue of the Journal includes 10 to 15 articles by international researchers. Most of the articles published are based on the work of historians as well as sociologists, anthropologists, psychoanalysts, economists, and linguists specialized in these issues. The articles are selected by an editorial board directed by Jean-Marc Masseaut (October 2010). The Shackles of Memory Journal was meant as a space for dialogue, exchanges and discussion between international researchers of all ages, experiences and origins (European, American or African). The Association also intended its Journal to be a forum for young researchers and African researchers, who might encounter difficulties publishing their work, to express their views. 12 issues were released so far, and number 13 is about to be released:
- 1st issue (1999): The Slave Trade: History, Memory, and Consequences
- 2nd issue (2000): Slavery and Collaboration in the Indian Ocean
- 3rd issue (2001): The Slave Trade and Slavery in the Portuguese-Speaking World; the French Revolution and Slavery; Current Debates
- 4th issue (2002): The Slave Trades in Africa; Black Pirates and Seamen of the Trade; Collective Memory
- 5th issue (2003): Women in the Slave Trade and Slavery
- 6th issue (2004): Haiti: Raw Materials
- 7th issue (2004): Haiti in the World
- 8th issue (2005): Cuba
- 9th issue (2006): From Africa to the Far East
- 10th issue (2007): Ports in the Slave Trade – Nantes
- 11th issue (2007): Ports in the Slave Trade – France
- 12th issue (2009): Artistic Creation, Slavery and the Slave Trade
- 13th issue (2010): The Mediterranean
According to its website, the Association's purpose in publishing this Journal is twofold:
1.To enable historians to establish a universal and scientifically acknowledged history:
- by gathering and circulating referential work on the Transatlantic trade;
- by supporting research on other routes taken by the trade, either maritime or land routes;
- by studying the structures and the evolutions of slave systems.
2.To raise awareness of the many legacies left by slavery and colonization:
- by questioning the patterns and institutions which emerged from these confrontations;
- by becoming conscious of the influence of past events on our cultural references;
- by taking a closer look at the scars left by these traumatic events in the collective psyche and at the dynamics of identity construction.
The Shackles of Memory also publish books, exhibition catalogues, DVDs and informational booklets:
- an illustrated catalogue of the Shackles of Memory Exhibition (Château des Ducs de Bretagne in Nantes, December 5, 1992 to May 29, 1994).
- a bilingual documentary film (French and English) about the "Shackles of Memory Exhibition". This film features the main themes of the Exhibition and displays the sets, objects, paintings and documents presented in the Exhibition. Available on DVD. 52 minutes.
- An illustrated catalogue of the “Memories of Migrations from the Middle Ages to the 20th century: Tolerance, Intolerance” Exhibition, shown in Nantes from October 3, 1998 to March 31, 1999.
- A discovery itinerary booklet with comments and illustrations of Nantes and its region, entitled: “The Slave Trade from Barbechat and Nantes to Paimboeuf”.
The Shackles of Memory Research Center
In order to continue the work of memory which the Association has carried on for several years, the Shackles of Memory, in conjunction with the University of Nantes, have created a research center focused on expanding and circulating knowledge and research about the Atlantic slave trade and slavery on the one hand; and about the varied instances of slave trades and systems of slavery that existed throughout History on the other hand. The Research Center publicizes the results of its research through an annual conference cycle open to all visitors.
The Research Center's activities include:
- coordination of conference cycles;
- participation in colloquiums and conferences outside the Association's circle.
Conference and workshop cycles were initiated every academic year since November 2003. In 2010/2011, the central theme for conferences is “Slavery in the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Worlds”, in conjunction with the University of Nantes. Seven two-hour conferences are scheduled throughout the academic year. Entrance is free to all.
Up to 2009 the Research Center used to organize introduction to historical research workshops, in conjunction with the University of Nantes. The Research Center also participated in the CODES Project for research launched by the French Ministry of National Education.
The Association organizes international summits aimed at strengthening cross-cultural relationships and projects between Europe, Africa and America. The circulation of historical research on the slave trade and slavery is also one of the objectives of these conferences. The following conferences were organized by the Association:
- “Africa in Question”, in Nantes (France), 1993;
- “The Caribbean: New Exchanges between Europe and the Americas”, in Nantes (France), 1994;
- “Legacies of the Past: Five Centuries of Relationships between Europe, Africa and the Americas”, in Dakar, (Senegal), 1997;
- “The Colonial Experience: Atlantic Exchanges in the Time of Slavery, from the 15th to the 19th century”, in Nantes (France), June 2005, in conjunction with EHESS Paris (French School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences).
- “The Slave Trade and Slavery”, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Arts, Traditions and Slavery Museum in Bamendjinda (Cameroon);
- “City and Slavery” Conference Project in Limbe (Cameroon), 2011-2012.
The Shackles of Memory rely on data resources including old and contemporary books and documents on the following themes:
- the Atlantic slave trade;
- Atlantic slavery;
- other forms of slave trades and systems of slavery;
- abolitions of the Atlantic slave trade;
- the legacies of slavery;
- African and West Indian civilizations;
The various activities undertaken by the Association since its foundation have led it to become a member of several international programs such as the Slave Route Project initiated by UNESCO, and to play a role in certain committees, such as the “Committee of Reflection on French-Haitian Relations”, presided by Régis Debray. The Association also initiated international exchanges, especially with Haiti and Africa.
In Antananarivo (Madagascar) in 2005 for instance, the Association prompted the creation of an “International Alliance of the Shackles of Memory” with several cities historically involved in the slave trade and slavery.
Partnerships with UNESCO
The Association has been a member of the scientific committee for UNESCO's Slave Route Project's, and thus took part in international summits in Ouidah (Benin), Havana (Cuba), Luanda (Angola), Nantes (France), Palermo (Italy) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). It still maintains relationships with this committee today. The Association is responsible for the coordination of the “Slavery, Museums and Exhibitions” network, and especially the scientific research Program linked to the Slave Route Project.
A Special Bond with the Republic of Haiti
The former Island of Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola) holds a special place in the historical work on slavery and the slave trade. The Shackles of Memory Association has created many ties with the Republic of Haiti, the first Black Republic, born out of the rebellion of slaves against their masters in the wake of the French Revolution.
The « Committee of Reflection on French-Haitian Relations » presided by Régis Debray
The Shackles of Memory Association took part in the « Committee of Reflection on French-Haitian Relations » created by former President of France Jacques Chirac, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Independence of the Republic of Haiti (1804–2004). This committee was presided by Professor Régis Debray, who wrote a report suggesting various options for a renewal of relationships between France and Haiti.
Yvon Chotard, who took part in this committee as President of the Shackles of Memory Association, pointed to efforts in two specific directions:
- the work of memory and history between France and Haiti;
- expansion and renewal of decentralized cooperation between towns from both countries.
Régis Debray submitted his report to French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in January 2004.
The Society of Friends of the Haitian Republic
In 2005, the Association and the city of Nantes jointly prompted the creation of the Society of Friends of the Haitian Republic, bringing together the work of communities, non-profit associations and NGOs, and individuals. It was presided by Régis Debray and was aimed at coordinating the cooperation between local communities on one side, and between NGOs on the other side, and avoid overlapping of their activities.
The Shackles of Memory Journal on Haiti
Special attention was given to the 2004 edition of the Shackles of Memory Journal: two special editions featuring many color illustrations were released on that theme as a way to celebrate the bicentennial of the independence of Haiti (1804–2004). For these two special editions, the Shackles of Memory worked together with Myriam Cottias, researcher at the University of Antilles-Guyane and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris).
Exhibition in Haiti for the bicentennial of Haitian independence
The Association was asked to present a similar exhibition to the one held in Nantes in 1992-1994 about the slave trade and slavery in Port-au-Prince. This exhibition entitled “1804-2004: One Land, One People, One Nation” was to trace back and illuminate the history of the Haitian nation from the origins to independence. This exhibition was to be shown in the center of Port-au-Prince, on the Champ de Mars plaza. The Association had appointed the same designers as for the exhibition in Nantes: Jean-Pierre Chesné, then director of the International Rochefort Sea Center, and Pierre Combes, the curator of the exhibition. However, due to the deterioration of relations between the French and Haitian authorities, the withdrawal of financial partners (the French Embassy in Haiti and the European Union), and concerns that the exhibition might be misused, the Shackles of Memory decided to put an end to this project.
Cultural Support Program for the Shackles of Memory in Haiti
Nevertheless, since 2004 the Association has kept working in collaboration with the Haitian Minister of Culture and various cultural institutions such as the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (Haitian National Pantheon Museum) towards the elaboration of a cultural development program (including training courses for the preservation of historical documents, expertise sharing, exchanges of exhibitions, partnerships for archives...). One particular initiative calls for special credits: Marie-Lucie Vendryes, former director of the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, presented a historical exhibition in Haiti for the bicentennial of Independence entitled: “From Ayiti to Haiti: Freedom Gained”. Thanks to support from the French Embassy and the Shackles of Memory, this exhibition was transformed into a touring exhibition comprising thirty educational panels. This bilingual exhibition (French-Creole) is kept available to the general public and has already been presented in several French cities and towns (such as Angers, Le Mans, Nantes, Paimboeuf). It will likely be shown in Guadeloupe in the year 2011.
Development Assistance Program
As part of the Society of Friends of the Haitian Republic's agenda, the city of Nantes and the Shackles of Memory Association agreed in 2007 to examine the feasibility of a decentralized cooperation project with the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Sun City. Two estimates of Sun City's needs were carried out in November 2007 and January 2008 by the Shackles of Memory. These estimates enabled the Association to get better insight into Sun City's situation and to meet Mr Robert Duval, founding President of Haiti's Athletics Center – a sports (training) center for underprivileged children from Sun City. This association offers soccer, basketball, ping-pong and athletics training courses as well as hot meals and tutoring to over 1500 children from Sun City everyday. Haiti's Athletics Center was aimed at expanding its activities in a sector that would create jobs for Sun City's young workers, and thus created a green recycling center. This project received technological support from the French association CEFREPADE (French Center for Partnership Research in Decontamination, Waste Management and Environment), an association which is specialized in waste management in countries of the South and sent a volunteer to work on this project in Haiti. The creation of the recycling center was achieved thanks to financial support from the French Embassy in Haiti, the Shackles of Memory Association, the City of Nantes and the Loire Atlantic Region Local Council.
The earthquake that occurred on January 12, 2010 destroyed a large part of the city center and suspended all activities for several months. Haiti's Athletics Center had to manage over 600 families who had taken refuge on its grounds after the earthquake. But the Shackles of Memory and the CEFREPADE still provide their support for this project and work to its completion, also in memory of Jean-Christophe Fernandez, delegate of the CEFREPADE in Sun City and who died during the earthquake at age 26. The sorting and composting work started again in April 2010 and the center will be entirely rebuilt by the end of 2010.
Participation in various Development Programs
The Shackles of Memory Association deemed it important not to restrict its action to cultural and educational initiatives but instead provide concrete proofs of solidarity to its partners from various countries. After the “Africa in Question” Conference, which took place in Nantes in 1993, the Association worked hand in hand with 3 associations from Burkina Faso to the completion of four decentralized cooperation programs:
- Construction of a training center for the delegates of farmer groups (project manager: FONADES Association).
- Construction of three town pharmacies (project manager: Promo-Femmes/ Developpement-Sport Association, an association for the advancement of women and the promotion of sports).
- Construction of a local fruit and vegetable processing center (project manager: Pag-la Yiri Association)
- Support for the purchase and use of solar ovens as part of an environmental strategy and for the improvement of women’s status in the country (project manager: Promo-Femmes / Developpement-Sport Association, an association for the promotion of women and the promotion of sports).
Partnership with the Pays-de-la-Loire-Region and Cameroon Association
The Shackles of Memory also initiated a partnership with the Association Pays de la Loire-Cameroun (APLC), an Association between the Pays-de-la-Loire-Region and Cameroon aimed at providing support to sustainable cultural and eco-tourism development in Dschang (West Cameroon). The Shackles of Memory Association supports the APLC Association in promoting Dschang and its region’s cultural heritage, and drawing attention to historical connections between local history and the larger history of the slave trade and slavery. The Shackles of Memory Association is partner of the ‘Route des Chefferies’ Project, an initiative of the APLC Association and many Bamileke chefferies.
The Shackles of Memory International Alliance (SMIA)
Since 2005, the Shackles of Memory Association, represented by its President Yvon Chotard, acted as secretary to the International Alliance Network, whose creation it had initiated. The International Alliance met in Nantes (France) in 2006 and 2008 and in Limbe (Cameroon) in 2009. This network involves actors from the three continents related to the history of the slave trade and slavery (Europe, Africa, America). It is aimed at sharing knowledge and furthering research on this common past as well as setting up concrete development and cultural mediation projects (exhibitions, museums, conferences and publications).
During the Limbe meeting, the International Alliance decided to organize into 3 departments:
- towns and regions;
- cultural institutions (museums, research centers, associations…);
- individuals (researchers, movie directors, novelists…).
Former President of the Republic of Benin and Mayor of Cotonou, Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo, presided the Alliance.
A number of municipalities (such as Nantes, Cotonou, Abomey, Ouidah, Dakar, La Rochelle and Lorient) meeting in Nantes in June 2010, suggested turning the Shackles of Memory International Alliance (SMIA) into an “International Alliance of Cities for the Duty of Memory and Development”. The Shackles of Memory Association expressed the wish to become a member and partner of this new structure, which was granted by the delegates of the towns present in Nantes. Former President of the Shackles of Memory International Alliance, Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo was then appointed President of this new formation.
The Shackles of Memory wanted indeed to maintain relationships with the municipalities previously met, even those which decided to create their own specific structures. The Association remains in contact with all municipalities interested.
The Association intends to keep up the Limbe meeting spirit which brought cities, cultural institutions and individuals together. In accordance with the mission it was given in December 2009, it seeks to reinforce the Shackles of Memory international network. This network is based on four main entities:
- Nantes (France), representing Europe;
- Haiti, representing the Caribbean;
- Cameroon, representing Africa;
- South Africa, especially the city of Durban, representing the countries of the Indian Ocean.
Digital Community Project
The Shackles of Memory Association is partner to the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), and benefits as such from the Francophonie's Project. The program operates along two complementary lines of action:
- creation, online editing and coordination of the website of the Shackles of Memory International Alliance Network (an informational website kept by several contributors) on the themes of the slave trade, slavery and their modern consequences;
- providing support to three partners of the Network from countries of the South (in Haiti, Senegal and Cameroon) in mastering information technology resources (IT) and using them in their network activities. These partners are the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (Port-au-Prince, Haiti), the “Arts, Traditions and Slavery” Museum of the Bamendjinda Chefferie (West Cameroon), and the University of Dakar's Pôle d'Excellence Régional (Dakar, Senegal).
The project is aimed at using Information Technology resources for a better understanding of the history of the slave trade, slavery and their modern consequences and at creating a community bound by shared knowledge and information.
Other Ongoing Projects
A variety of projects have already received support from the International Alliance and several of them are currently under preparation. The Shackles of Memory supported the creation of the “Arts, Traditions, and Slavery” Museum of the Bamendjinda Cheffery (West Cameroon), which opened on December 12, 2009. The first part of this museum's permanent exhibition shows the history of Bamendjinda from its origins to the present day, the Cheffery's traditional and social organization and its cultural and religious customs. The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to customary slavery, and to the Cheffery's encounter with the global slave trade and its historical and social consequences.
- Booklet presenting the Shackles of Memory Journal, #12, éd. Les Anneaux de la Mémoire, Nantes, 2009
- Brochure presenting the Association, éd. Les Anneaux de la Mémoire, Nantes, 2010
- Foreword from President of the Association, Yvon Chotard, in Cahier des Anneaux de la Mémoire n°12, Artistic Creation, Slavery and the Slave Trade, éd. Les Anneaux de la Mémoire, Nantes, 2009
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