Seminar with Ana Lúcia Araújo

8 November, 2023

On 20 November, we will be joined by Ana Lúcia Araújo, who will present and discuss with us some of the research behind her most recent book, The Gift: How Objects of Prestige Shaped the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism(CUP, 2023). Ana Lúcia Araújo is a social and cultural historian, and Full Professor of History at Howard University (USA), who has worked extensively on the history of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade and their present-day legacies. You can find out more about her work here and here

The Gift: Retracing the History of a Transatlantic Object 

This presentation will explore the meanings, uses, and tortuous trajectory of one single eighteenth-century silver ceremonial sword fabricated in La Rochelle during the era of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism. The object was given by French slave traders from La Rochelle to a West Central African agent in the port of Cabinda in 1777, on the Loango coast. Curiously, more than one century later, this very same item was looted from Abomey, the capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey, during the Second Franco-Dahomean War that made Dahomey a colony of France. As I interrogate the several hypotheses explaining how this object traveled several hundred miles to reach Abomey, I also discuss how the history of the exchanges established in the context of the Atlantic slave trade and the rise of European colonial rule were imprinted on this object. 

This event is jointly organised by Religious Matters in an Entangled World and Pressing Matter: Ownership, Value, and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums

20 November 2023, 14.00 – 16.00 

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University, Janskerkhof 13, 3512 BL Utrecht 

This will be a hybrid event. If you would like to attend, in person or online, please email Ana Rita Amaral ( ) until 17 November 2023.