African Ethnonyms in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Date / time: 15 July, 12:00 am

African Ethnonyms in the Era of the Transatlantic Slave Trade


Call for Papers, deadline – 15 July 2022

Conference: 8-9 September 2022 | 10 am – 4 pm | University of Essex, Lakeview Room 

The documentation on Atlantic slavery, both in Africa and the Americas, is filled with ethnonyms: ‘Mina’, ‘Congo’, ‘Coromantee’, ‘Igbo’, ‘Mandenga’, ‘Jolofo’—the catalogue is substantial. Although sometimes dismissed as meaningless categories imposed by enslavers and imperialists, our contention is that ethnonyms are valuable pieces of information, inadvertent acknowledgements of an enslaved persons’ humanity. Still, while perhaps essential to recovering the humanity of enslaved Africans, ethnonyms cannot be taken uncritically, requiring careful conceptualization and contextualization.

This conference/workshop seeks to assemble scholars interested in exploring the meaning of ethnonyms in the era of the transatlantic slave trade, ca. 1500-1866. We welcome presentations exploring any aspect of African ethnonyms, whether on a global or local scale, from any discipline, in any geographic setting, and from scholars at all career stages. Papers from the conference will be considered for publication in an edited anthology. We intend to hold this conference face-to-face but may be able to accommodate online presentations. Should Covid restrictions prevent face-to-face meetings, we will move the conference online.

Please send abstracts by July 15, 2022 to Sean Kelley,

Image Details: Centres of the slave trade in East Africa patrolled by the Royal Navy. Wood engraving, 1875.. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark