2.3a Summary, Ann O’Hear, “Models and Outcomes of the Decline of Slavery,” review of Howard Temperley, ed., After Slavery: Emancipation and Its Discontents (London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass Publishers, 2000), in Journal of African History, vol. 43, no. 1 (2002): 166‒167.
The chapters in this work first appeared as a special issue of Slavery and Abolition (2000). The chapters include studies of abolition movements, the process of emancipation, and the results of emancipation for ex-slaves and others.
A variety of areas are covered. For students of slavery in Africa, specifically, Suzanne Miers’ chapter is especially interesting. The chapter, titled “Slavery to Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa: Expectations and Reality,” focuses on British possessions, providing a very helpful summary of events and research. It discusses the differences between the “colonial” (New World) and “protectorate” (Indian) models of abolition, and the ways in which the latter was used (or diverged from) in Africa.
David Seddon’s chapter on Saharan Africa notes that slavery in this region continued even after independence. It would have been interesting to learn more on present-day slavery in Sudan, and on the viewpoints of both slaves and ex-slaves. Howard Temperley’s chapter on Liberia draws attention to the attitudes of the settlers and their similarities to other colonizing groups.
Other chapters deal with various places, including Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States. A range of topics was covered, including British abolitionists’ expectations; the Aborigines’ Protection Society; reactions to and memories of emancipation in the United States; resistance to apprenticeship; freedmen and indentured labourers; and the “delegalization” of slavery in India. In the concluding chapter, Seymour Drescher considers the expectations of various groups and the disappointment of ex-slaves and others with the outcomes.
The collection contains a number of useful studies, but its coverage is uneven. It features a series of detailed case studies on the Americas, but has no chapter on Brazil. Coverage of Africa includes only one general survey and one area study. Asia is neglected, apart from India.
One of the most important lessons to be learned from this collection is, as Suzanne Miers points out, the need for further research on the process of renegotiation and on the life stories of slaves, in order to learn more about their various expectations, and the extent to which these expectations were met.