PEOPLE WITHOUT AN ORIGIN: The 'Abid Ghbonton. A Historical Anthropology


Marta Scaglioni

Research Area:


My research proposal focuses on the study of slavery and post-slavery in Libya and through its borders. It consists of a comparative and longitudinal analysis both on the history of slavery in Libya and the neighboring states as on the post-slavery trajectories. In this frame, my primary objective is to inquire whether there are deep historical links between the legacy of slavery on the one hand, and contemporary phenomena like human trafficking and migration, which are influencing the nation-states in Africa as well as in Europe, in their transnational form on the other one.

Starting from the analysis of some data I collected during a preliminary field research in the archives in Rome and Tunis, I intend to open a window on the trajectories of Tripolitanian and Cyrenaican slaves during the period between 1880 and 1911, when the Italian army landed on the Mediterranean coast and initiated the first colonization of Libya. On the other side of the border, being the first North African country to abolish slavery in 1846, Tunisia attracted slaves in seek for freedom. Studying slaves and their migration during those years opens roomy spaces for a broader discussion on slavery, colonialism, gender, race, and stereotypes in today’s Tunisia and Libya.