Ana Lucia Araujo

Ana Lucia Araujo, June 2017, Arlington VA, Picture: Alain Belanger.

I am a social and cultural historian, working on the history and public memory of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery and their social and cultural legacies. In the last fifteen years, I authored and edited over ten books and published nearly fifty articles and chapters on these themes. I lecture and publish in English, Portuguese, French, and Spanish in the United States and also abroad. In November 2017, I was appointed as a member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project.

My most recent book is Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History. The book examines from a transnational perspective the history of the demands of reparations for slavery and the slave trade in the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

Over the last years, I published a number of books.  Brazil Through French Eyes: A Nineteenth-Century Artist in the Tropics (2015) is a revised, updated, and expanded English version of my book Romantisme tropical (2008). I explore the idea of “tropical romanticism,” a vision of Brazil with an emphasis on the exotic. I examine the travelogue Deux années au Brésil by the French artist François-Auguste Biard, by situating his work in the context of the European travel writing of the time. The book shows how representations of Brazil through French travelogues contributed and reinforced cultural stereotypes and ideas about race and race relations in Brazil.

My  book Shadows of the Slave Past: Memory, Heritage and Slavery (2014) examines the processes that led to the memorialization of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade in the second half of the twentieth century. I explore numerous kinds of initiatives such as monuments, memorials, and museums as well as heritage sites. By connecting different projects developed in  Europe, Africa, and the Americas during the last two decades, I discuss how different groups and social actors have competed to occupy the public arena by associating the slave past with other human atrocities, especially the Holocaust. I look at how the populations of African descent, white elites, and national governments, very often carrying particular political agendas, appropriated the slave past by fighting to make it visible or conceal it in the public space of former slave societies.

Public Memory of Slavery: Victims and Perpetrators in the South Atlantic, published in 2010, explores the recent phenomenon of memorialization of slavery in Brazil and Benin (West Africa). By examining monuments, memorials, and museums, I argue that the construction of the public memory of slavery in the South Atlantic is not only the result of survivals from the period of the Atlantic slave trade but also the outcome of a transnational movement that was accompanied by the continuous intervention of institutions and individuals who promoted the relations between Brazil and the present-day Republic of Benin.

In Romantisme tropical : l’aventure illustrée d’un peintre français au Brésil (2008) I examine the construction of a particular image of Brazil in nineteenth-century France. I look at the various written and visual representations of Brazilian natives and black populations, through the work of the French artist François-Auguste Biard (1799-1882), in particular his richly illustrated travelogue Deux Années au Brésil (1862). The book argues that the image of Brazil conveyed in Biard’s travelogue, is part of a long French tradition of representing Brazil, which started in the sixteenth century, intensified during the nineteenth century, and persists today.

I  also edited multiple books: African Heritage and Memories of Slavery in Brazil and the South Atlantic World (2015), Politics of Memory: Making Slavery Visible in the Public Space  (2012), Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities (2011), and Living History: Encountering the Memory of the Heirs of Slavery (2009).  I also co-edited the volume Crossing Memories: Slavery and African Diaspora (2011).

My current book project provisionally titled Atlantic Slavery and Memory: Problems and Debates explains why today more than never before, slavery and the Atlantic slave trade are the object of growing discussion in the public sphere. Exploring in each chapter the notions of collective memory, cultural memory, public memory, official memory, and public history, and using examples from different societies where slavery existed, I show that these debates are more than simple attempts to come to terms with the past. They rather reveal the persistency of white supremacy, racism, and racial inequalities in former slave societies. In these days, when readers have a hard time to distinguish accurate information from fake news, this book will discuss how history and memory relate to fact and fiction, in order to understand the current debates on slavery. 

Currently, I am a Professor of History at Howard University (Washington DC).  I am the editor of the book series Slavery: Past and Present, by Cambria Press. I also chair the Brazil and Southern Cone Advanced Area Studies Seminar at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State. I am engaged in disseminating my scholarship to the public. In am active on TwitterFacebook, Tumblr, and Googleplus, where I created and maintain the hashtag #slaveryarchive in order to follow news and initiatives related to the study of Atlantic slavery in the past and the present. I also created the website A Historian’s Views: Digital Humanities and Arts in the Age of Presentism to share comments on my scholarship, and current events related to the topics of memory and slavery.

New book

My book Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History is published !

Reviews:

“This is a book I’ve been waiting for – a timely and overdue account of the centuries-long cry for reparations, written by a gifted historian of transatlantic slavery. Ana Lucia Araujo has brought valuable context, perspective, and learning to one of the urgent issues of our time.”  Marcus Rediker, Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History, University of Pittsburgh, United States, and author of The Slave Ship: A Human History (2008)

Ana Lucia Araujo’s book on slavery reparations movements reaches across time and space. She considers enslavement, emancipation, and the continued refusal of every single slave-owning society in the Atlantic world-the USA, Britain, France, Brazil, Portugal, and Spain, especially to address the centuries of theft that made them wealthy and built the modern global political economy. Professor Araujo’s erudition is unbounded, and her clear, readable prose will make this book an important and useful addition to the toolkits of academics, students, and activists.”  Edward E. Baptist, Professor of History, Cornell University, United States, and author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2016)

“The trans-Atlantic debate about reparations for slavery has long needed a serious historical explanation. Now, in Ana Lucia Araujo’s book, we have the answer. This original, sweeping study, grounded in meticulous research, explains how and why reparations have become so pressing a modern-day issue. It is essential reading for everyone concerned – whatever their viewpoint.”  James Walvin, Professor of History Emeritus, University of York, UK and author of The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery (2011)