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Post-Slavery  

Baz Lecocq and Lotte Pelckmans

Post-slavery is an academic analytical concept that signifies the fragmented legacies and continuities of past slavery and slave trade in contemporary societies after its formal legal abolition, and beyond emancipation processes. Legacies can take the form of discourses based in collective memories and ideologies of past slavery, while continuities can take the shape of continued relations of social hierarchy and dependency between people of slave descent and the descendants of slaveholders and other people of free descent, to the disadvantage of the formerly enslaved and their descendants. The social mechanisms of exclusion that uphold post-slavery situations include the invisibility of such situations to outsiders; structural racism and other forms of stigmatization; struggles surrounding gender relations; the social importance of genealogy, marriage, and family formation across the historical free-unfree divide; uneven access to physical and social capital, such as land and positions of authority; and the politics of history and memory. Post-slavery legacies and continuities form points on a continuum, ranging from explicit forms of exploitation that could qualify as slavery outside the law (de facto, but not de jure slavery), via structural racism and other forms of structural exclusion in society (post-slavery continuities), to the residual histories and memories that can continue to mark differences between the descendants of slave and free today (post-slavery legacies).