Slavery, past and present


Conference to examine historic archetypes, current realities

Two hundred years after the British Slave Trade Act ended legal slavery in the British Empire, the practice of human trafficking persists. To explore the reasons behind the historical and modern practices of slavery, the slave trade and slave diaspora, the McGill Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) will host the conference, Sex, Power and Slavery — The Dynamics of Carnal Relations Under Enslavement from April 19 to 21.

Professor Gwyn Campbell, conference organizer and Canada Research Chair in Indian Ocean World History, hopes the international conference will raise awareness about modern slavery. “Today, children and women are the main sufferers of slavery, this goes against historic archetypes that slaves are male and from the West Indies,” says Campbell. A goal of “Sex, Power and Slavery” is to highlight one of the most inhumane forms of slavery, the sex slave trade.

Presenters will include David Brion Davis, Pulitzer prize-winner and Director Emeritus of the Yale Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition; McGill Distinguished Lecturer Visitor Abdul Sheriff, Director of the Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute (ZIORI); Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, author and Quebec historian; and Afua Cooper, author and poet.

Registration information and full conference program available at:

Free public events:

Mini-Beatty Lecture/Keynote address
Professor Davis will deliver a keynote address titled "Slavery, Sex and Dehumanisation," in the context of the modern sex slave trade.
To be held on Thursday, April 19 from 9:30 am to 11:00 am in room 232 of the Leacock Building, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W.

Debate/Panel discussion
Angélique: Rebel or Victim?, a debate between Quebec historian Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne and Governor-General’s Literary Award nominee Afua Cooper about the innocence or guilt of Angélique, the Montreal slave who was hanged for burning a large part of the city in 1734.
To be held on Thursday, April 19, in room 232 of the Leacock Building, from 6 pm until 7:30 pm.

Public lecture
Internationally respected author Abdul Sheriff will deliver the public lecture, “The Dhow Culture of the Indian Ocean,” about the maritime tradition of the Indian Ocean, as the recipient of the 2007 Maxwell Cummings Distinguished Lectureship.
To be held on Wednesday, April 25, at 5 pm at Leacock 232.

On the Web: Indian Ocean World Centre

Contact Information

Cynthia Lee
McGill University
cynthia.lee [at]
Office Phone: