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Araujo explores ‘Slavery as History and Memory’ in 2023 Reckford Lecture

March 10, 2023 | Kristen Chavez

Patricia Parker and Ana Lucia AraujoOn Feb. 23, historian Ana Lucia Araujo delivered the 2023 Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies to a packed University Room in Hyde Hall. Araujo, a professor at Howard University, discussed “Slavery as History and Memory” as she detailed her research in exploring the history and memory of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery.

In her talk, Araujo described the perceived differences of history and memory, the way they intersect, and the implications for historians. “History and memory are, at the end of the day, two different modes of discourse that engage the past in different ways,” said Araujo, noting that both can also be politicized.

“I believe that memory provides historians a framework that takes into account the lived experiences of men and women who were victims of atrocities such as slavery, the Atlantic slave trade, and colonialism,” said Araujo.

Ana Lucia Araujo at the lectern in the University Room to a full room. A presentation slide shows a map of the transatlantic slave trade.

Araujo also challenged the tendency to center studies of the transatlantic slave trade on the Global North Atlantic. “The persistent emphasis on the United States and the British colonies in the West Indies tends to obscure the real dimensions of slavery and the slave trade the Americas,” said Araujo.

She pointed to Brazil, which saw over 4.8 million enslaved people arrive to the country. Growing up in Brazil, she later learned that the country’s history of slavery was not fully taught, which prompted her to study it further.

“And this is why it’s important to remind that Brazil, and indeed the moves of Brazilian slave trade are central to understand the slavery and the Atlantic slave trade in the Americas,” said Araujo.

The Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies was established by the late classics professor emeritus Kenneth J. Reckford to honor his wife, Mary. Speakers in European Studies are asked to provide an interdisciplinary approach and a sense of shared humanity” to the public. The Institute for the Arts and Humanities has hosted the lecture since the lecture’s establishment in 1990.

Watch a recording of the lecture below:


Photos by Kristen Chavez

Video by Jafar Fallahi

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