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No. 8, May 2023 Individual Trajectories and Group Portraits: Contributions and Limitations for a History of Slavery and Post-Slavery Societies


  • Céline Flory (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Mondes Américains / CIRESC, France

  • Romy Sanchez (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, IRHIS, France)


This issue of the journal Esclavages & post~esclavages/Slaveries & Post~Slaveries invites us to examine the historiographic trend, particularly dynamic in recent years, favoring the study of individual trajectories and/or group portraits. We wish to question the heuristic contributions and potential limitations of such approaches in the specific context of slavery and post-slavery’s history. What does this focus on individuals and/or groups allow to think about and understand for these societies and situations? What are the limits of this historiographic craze privileging the biographical?

Several leads are suggested around our proposal:

First, the notions of trajectory and group are to be discussed in their relation to the slavery and post-slavery context. What do they add to analysis compared to other scales of observation and other methodologies? How precisely is the dialectic between quantitative and qualitative posed in such an analytical framework?

The link to the topic of intimacy and the private sphere is also of interest to us. This approach often deals with families and groups of acquaintances, but not exclusively. According to whether it is a question of families or groups of masters or slaves, or of collective entities mixing various socio-racial memberships, how do intimacy and private sphere vary according to such differences? Are these lenses of the intimate and the private unavoidable to understand slave and post-slave societies from this perspective?

What about agency and individual practices? Are they particularly highlighted by this way of making history? And if so, how? Moreover, what do these trajectories and group portraits allow to highlight within domination’s systems?

The choice of these approaches often implies positioning—or at least a questioning—the writing of history and the place of the narrative within historical work. Here again, the specificities of slavery and post-slavery modes of narration are key to this dossier’s topic.

No geographical area or historical period is favored and we therefore invite all researchers interested in this theme to propose their analysis to respond to the various aspects of this invitation.

Guidelines for submissions

Short summaries of proposed articles (500-800 words) must be sent by February 1st, 2022 to The articles themselves (maximum of 45,000 characters, inclusive of spaces and bibliography), which may be in French, English, Spanish or Portuguese, must be submitted by May 1st, 2022. They should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 3,600 characters. Comprehensive guidance for authors is accessible here.

The editorial committee will announce its decisions on 28 February 2022. The articles which have been selected will be published in the journal Esclavages & post~esclavages/Slaveries & Post~Slaveries in May 2023.

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