Abolition Forgery: A History of the Afterlives of Slavery
A presentation from 2022–2023 Joy Foundation Fellow Ndubueze L. Mbah
Mbah is a West African Atlantic historian. During his Harvard Radcliffe Institute fellowship, he is completing his second book entitled, “Abolition Forgery: A History of the Afterlives of Slavery.” Mbah develops the theory of abolition forgery to explain an overlooked phenomenon: how political projects to end slavery, abolition laws and policies, and liberal freedom discourses disguised the entrenchment of slavery’s political, economic, and social unfreedoms. Mbah shows that abolition forgery was a key component of liberal internationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Abolition forgery fostered capitalism and state control over African imperial subjects. For African people, surviving abolition forgery entailed documentary and social identity forgery, human trafficking, contraband smuggling, and forms of rebellious mobility that challenged colonial borders.
Harvard Radcliffe Fellow Discusses Theory of "Abolition Forgery" in Webinar (Harvard Crimson, 4/13/23)