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Benjamin Nicholas Lawrance
Regents of the University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)
Africa's Stolen Childhood: The Illegal Enslavement of African Children in the 19th and 20th Centuries

My book examines African child slaves in the 19th and 20th centuries as slavery became illegal in the Atlantic and Africa. As slavery becomes unacceptable, the proportion of children, particularly girls, increases. 19th-c slave traders and 20th-c labor recruiters turn to children as legal coercion is stymied. The life histories of five children associated with the trial of La Amistad are segues to five thematic chapters exploring topics in illegal enslavement. They journey from West Africa to Cuba, the US, and back and crafted child-specific strategies to survive. Childhood identity markers and child slave subjectivities were shaped by children’s encounters with law. Their stories contextualize the circumstances in which children were pawned, kidnapped, enslaved, re-enslaved, rescued, and freed. Based on archival and oral data from the US, Africa, and Europe, I demonstrate that children’s encounters with enslavement and emancipation were qualitatively different from adults’.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
African History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
12/1/2011 – 11/30/2012