Slavery Old and New Series: “Black Tunisians awake after 2011 – but who are they?” – May 30, 2017

Slavery Old and New is a joint research initiative which examines the legal conceptualization of labour exploitation. Through an interdisciplinary, transnational and historical methodology, this project draws on a variety of disciplines, spaces in time, and places around the world, to explore law’s understanding of “labour exploitation” and its relationship to society and practices.

On May 30, Marta Scaglioni, will present a paper entitled, “Black Tunisians awake after 2011 – but who are they?” at 2:30 p.m. in Stedman Lecture Hall 120E, York University (with video conferencing and recording).


Moving from the recent political and social unrests triggered by the self-immolation of twenty-six-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, an embryonic yet sustained social struggle for the defence of Blacks’ rights emerged, petitioning for the empowerment of Black Tunisians and for the introduction of a hate crime sanctioning racist attacks and insults. In spite of the representation of Black Tunisians as an homogenous phenotype-based category, however, historically differentiated paths behind each actor challenge the essentialist notion of ‘black’ that underlies the activists’ discussion. I engage with recent sub-Saharan economic migrants, long-term rural ‘blacks’ of slave origin, and contemporary (mostly urban) anti-racism activists, highlighting their historical trajectories and today’s discourses.

Video of presentation


Marta Scaglioni holds a research position at the University of Milan-Bicocca (Italy) and is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Bayreuth (Germany). Her research, funded by ERC-Grant 313737 SWAB “Shadows of slavery in West Africa and beyond. An historical anthropology”, tackles slavery and its heritage in Tunisia, especially regarding Blacks’ rights activists and communities of slave descendants.

Posted in Events, Slavery Old and New.