UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ to include records of French slaves
Several hundred documents items revealing the names other details of victims of slavery in France’s colonial empire is being added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World register.
This latest addition, which the U.N. cultural agency approved last week, marks the first time that France has pushed for the inscription of documents on the UNESCO register that were previously archived in France’s present-day overseas territories.
The Memory of the World program register was set up in 1992 “to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, decay over time,” according to UNESCO.
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The documents date from between the 17th 19th centuries, from places including the modern-day nations of Haiti, Mauritius Senegal the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Mayotte, Martinique Reunion.
They represent just a fraction of some 4 million people “enslaved in the French colonial empire, whether victims of trafficking or born locally into a status of servitude,” according to the French Foundation for the Memory of Slavery that lobbied for the inscription.
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“These generations of women, men children lived there without civil status, but not without traces,” the foundation said Tuesday in a statement.
The records include documents in the administrative, fiscal or religious sphere that feature the victim’s name, age, sex, professional skills, sometimes his or her physical characteristics.
The records have for years been kept by the Territorial Archives of Martinique French Guiana, the Departmental Archives of Guadeloupe, Reunion, the Overseas National Archives the National Archives of Haiti.