Shaping “the future of the consequences of slavery”

Over the past 25 years, the “Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage” has largely contributed to “breaking the silence surrounding slavery”. It has produced knowledge, developed scientific networks and supported educational and memorial initiatives on this matter at both national and international levels. Today, the issues related to slavery and its consequences for contemporary societies have dramatically changed. Slavery has generated profound social injustices that continue to affect our world today. The prevention and reduction of inequalities based on race, ethnicity or origin is more than ever essential for improving dialogue and securing a better living in multicultural societies (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10).

In this context, UNESCO has decided to define new orientations and ambitions for “the Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty and Heritage”, while preserving the strategic achievements that have helped to give it a unique ethical positioning.

This reflection was initiated during an innovative Futures Literacy workshop on "The Future of the consequences of slavery", held at UNESCO Headquarters on 13 February 2020. Its aim was to provide food for thought on the complexity of the challenges related to the protean legacy of slavery in the contemporary world.

The event brought together researchers, artists, cultural practitioners and UNESCO experts around a fundamental and epistemological ambition to question our uses and representations of the past, present and future around the triptych “slavery, race and inequalities”.

Based on an experimental set-up, the workshop invited participants to engage in thought experiments projecting them into 2060 in order to formulate their expectations for a better understanding of, and fight against racism and the social and economic inequalities derived from slavery.

Three main concerns emerged from various discussions:

  • the need to re-establish links between Africa and its Diasporas;
  • the development of a holistic pedagogical method addressing psychological traumas; and
  • the diversification of approaches to combat racism.

These three pillars will play a major role in the new strategic framework that will be developed for the “Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage”.