FIRST CARAIBES Regional Association pioneers this International Scientific Symposium, which will take place in Martinique on 26th and 27th October 2016 and in Guadeloupe on 28th : « Slavery: what is its impact on the the psychology of populations? » as part of the United Nations’ Decade for people of African Descent 2015-2024.
With the growing presence of the issue of slavery in the public sphere, we came to realise that we knew nothing about the psychological consequences of the slave trade and of Blacks enslavement while psychiatric work highlighted the need for treatment of psychological trauma, and epigenetic work provided proof that psychological trauma leaves marks on the DNA and is passed down from one generation to the next while, finally, historians work uncovered “slaves’ voices.” It was then of vital importance that historians, psychiatrists, geneticists, anthropologists, and sociologists met and discussed this issue, by standing as far away as possible from any feelings of ‘victimhood.’
In actual fact, the challenge is considerable as this is the first scientific event on the physiological consequences of slavery. In this respect, the challenge is also to tackle the link between slavery and racism, taking on board that the slave trade exclusively concerned Black people and that, as from the 16th century, slavery changed both in nature and in scale, this led to a racialized and layered vision of humanity (Valladodid debate…). With the abolition of slavery, the 19th century generated racial theories that rationalised and “scientifically” justified this hierarchy, embedded in colonisation, and placing Negroes between the ape and man under the Darwinian theory of evolution.
Therefore, the consequences of slavery and the aftermath of that (Jim Crow, stoning, apartheid, civil rights…), shaping people’s mind for centuries, have had a tremendous impact, if only in the light of scientific data currently available on psychological trauma.
Slavery has taken a particularly heavy toll on the Caribbean, with its 10 million deported Africans, it thus seems as an appropriate location to exchange knowledge on this issue and to develop expertise.
Frantz Fanon has already raised some of the issues we shall address, in particular the issue of internalized models, that he placed under the term of “alienation” and that Americans call “internalized racism.” In October 2011 FIRST CARAIBES held an International Congress in Martinique, dedicated to Frantz Fanon legacy. Among other things, he showed that alienation required further research, and in that respect, this 2016 symposium is a follow up on the 2011 congress, and a book will be published both in English and in French
Professor Aimé CHARLES –NICOLAS
FIRST CARAÏBES President