The Major Collaborative Research Initiative is a project which endeavours to bring together research partners worldwide. This interdisciplinary project investigates the living past of slavery and slave trades; explores the many patterns of resistance to slavery; and examines the contributions of enslaved peoples and their descendants to modern world culture through music (Negro spirituals, jazz, rumba, blues, reggae, sega, etc.) and forms of religious expression, such as vodou, candomblé, bori and zar. The focus is on the self-assertion of African-descended peoples in diaspora and the continued relevance of this legacy of slavery and racism in confronting modern slavery. Our concern is with the use and politics of memory, including a consideration of claims for reparations; but also the cultural manifestations of identity and memory as heritage, whereby we can study social and political options to eradicate the consequences of modern slavery and the legacies of historic slavery. The collaborative agenda is based on the assumption that all people have the right to know their history, just as all members of society have a right to the recognition of their past and present contributions.