FONDATION GABRIEL PÉRI
“CONSTRUIRE LA PAIX, DÉCONSTRUIRE & PRÉVENIR LAGUERRE »
[Construct peace, deconstruct and prevent war]
JANUARY, FRIDAY 25 AND SATURDAY 26, 2019
IVRY SUR SEINE, FRANCE
SLAVERY, A REFLECTION
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
This colloquium was extremely rich, and I am not going to cover it all. Let’s say the organizers and participants would define themselves as being on the left, and some were communists too, even if most were probably not affiliated to any party per se or did not refer to such affiliations. Yet quite a few of those who spoke, either from the rostrum or from the floor regretted that the left, since 2003 and the second Iraq war, has not been able to mobilize any real movement against war and for peace. This tone could have sounded as slightly nostalgic and sure enough, many participants were from more mature generations, if not older generations, and even retired. Most of them had lived the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, and the first Iraq war, the Gulf war as it was called. They also had lived the eight years of President Barack Obama and most were rather disappointed about his presidency, going as far as saying he was able to go and meet people directly, but he was not from the working class. This, of course, shows how misinformed some in the audience could be since his mother was a bank employee, and his father was from a farm worker’s family in Kenya.
But I want to come back to a dense and slightly tense final exchange on slavery and slave-trade implying myself from the floor and three people from the last two round tables (Dr. Patricia M. Lewis in the last but one round table, and Jean-Louis Sagot Duvauroux and Dr. Julianne Malveaux in the last round table).
Dr. Patricia M. Lewis, who did not speak on slavery per se, explained in her paper that two objectives have to be reached in our modern world. The first one is to guarantee the information we get is as truthful as possible, which is from my point of view pre-postmodern, and the second one is to assume and integrate in our thinking and everyday life diversity and she opened the palette by speaking of various diversities like ethnic, religious, racial, gender, age and a few other diversities, which is from my point of view very postmodern. The alliance of these two objectives creates a contradiction. The first principle aims at truth and there can only be one truth then, and information has to be truthful, which is a requirement that Trump is leveling at all media ignoring, Trump as much as us if we accept this objective, that the media do not provide information, but opinion based on information, or better on facts. At least that’s the first element Marshall McLuhan, would consider in order to study the various media. He considered a lot more, but he did not know the Internet at all, and he did not consider things like social networks. The second principle states the existence of and the obligation for us to accept diversity, which means a palette of many different groups with many different defining identity characteristics. This produces a multifarious set of points of view, opinions, and even, if these opinions are based on the same event, they might not take into account all the facts because they might not even know them all. The challenge then is that at the time of the Internet diversity is the rule, which means information will convey many different opinions based on the same events with varied scaling for the facts (all or only some facts). The objective then is to accept that younger generations are confronted to a mosaic (the concept it from McLuhan) of opinions with a mosaic of facts behind. How can these younger generations — and mind you how can WE the older generations — make their — mind you our — minds with such an exploded vision constantly reconstructing itself differently in each individual.
Facebook is not the culprit. Facebook is only exploiting the mental functioning of the people who are constantly navigating on the Internet to find any piece of information or opinion that fits their likes and dislikes. The new generation of didactics is no longer to teach anything to the learners, but it is to incite and guide the learners into a self-learning procedure in which the learners look for, retrieve, analyze and assimilate anything they can find about one particular question. The teacher may intervene in the guidance and may be the moderator of the coming together and confrontation of the various learners and what they have collected and analyzed. Imagine what it will be when these learners have the next generation of Artificial Intelligence at their disposal and imagine what it could be if all the learner knew how a Boolean system works.
This first presentation is important as a background to what is going to be said about slavery.
Jean-Louis Sagot Duvauroux presented what he called a 500-year long war that started in the 15th century and lasted up to the 20th century. He said this war did not have a name and he identified it as the war waged by European countries to conquer the whole world and he included in this war the slavery developed with the transatlantic triangular slave trade that lasted from the 15th century to the 20th century. He was not very specific on this slave-trade and he did not differentiate between the Catholic slavery of Spain, Portugal, and France on one hand, and the Anglo-Saxon slavery with England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom over the centuries plus the Netherlands and a few marginal actors. I will add one point that would have been interesting: the Anglo-Saxon version is based on the one-drop theory: one drop of black blood makes you black, whereas the Catholic approach produced the three-tiered societies of Mesoamerica and South America, plus the West Indies, thanks to the obligation for slaves to be married and have one day of marital consumption a week, to be baptized and married in the church, and to have the right to benefit from manumission, including self-manumission. I add this here because it is going to be essential further down.
He referred to the famous Charter of Kurukan Fuga reconstructed from centuries of memory in Guinea and available at http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/KaboreLaCharteDeKurukafuga.pdf. This Charter asserts a lot of basic rights for human beings, but it is the charter imposed onto the Empire of Mali when it was conquered by Islam at the beginning of the 13th century. What the UNESCO says about it is slightly misleading. It is based on the Quranic principle that all human beings — meaning Muslims — are equal and free and cannot be enslaved, and if a slave converts to Islam, he has to be freed. But article 20 is very clear about slaves:
« Article 20: ne maltraitez pas les esclaves, accordez-leur un jour de repos par semaine et faites en sorte qu’ils cessent le travail à des heures raisonnables. On est maître de l’esclave mais pas du sac qu’il porte. »
I would translate this article as follows: “Do not mistreat slaves, provide them with one day of rest per week and make sure they stop working at a reasonable hour. One is the master of the slave but not of the bag he carries.”
It is quite obvious slavery was not abolished except for Muslims and the fair treatment of slaves does not make them free, and note it is not mentioned they have to be converted to Islam, they have to be married in a way or another, and their children, if they have any, are not mentioned. It is this system that was recuperated by the Spanish Inquisition that imposed about the same treatment of slaves in the Americas, as I have explained just before. Anglo-Saxon slavery was brutal from the very start (the English arrived in 1607 in Virginia, John Rolfe started tobacco-growing after he married Pocahontas, under duress (that’s a very big euphemism) for the woman, who brought to him the growing and curing method used by Indians to produce tobacco (that only initiated male or female priests or shamans knew), and the first black slaves were brought to Virginia and John Rolfe’s tobacco plantation only in 1619) and at the beginning of the 18th century they invited a certain Lynch to explain to them how to produce slaves from their black possessions. You will find the full text or William Lynch’s letter of 1712 at https://archive.org/stream/WillieLynchLetter1712/the_willie_lynch_letter_the_making_of_a_slave_1712_djvu.txt.
This being said I can consider what Dr. Julianne Malveaux said. In fact, she said very little since she commented upon five or six quotations from Martin Luther King’s 1963 and 1968 speeches.
That’s when I asked for the floor and was given that floor for a couple of minutes. I said in French because only three or four people were really able to understand English, what follows.
I am surprised with the reference to slavery being reduced to the only case of the trans-Atlantic European slave trade that lasted from the 15th century to the 18th century with a prolongation in the form of segregation after its abolition in the USA. I think the problem of slavery has to be understood on a wider scale because it started two or three thousand years before Christ, if not more, in Egypt and in the Middle East. The black slaves came from the eastern coast of Africa from Mozambique to Ethiopia. A great number of males were castrated flush to the stomach (we estimate probably fifty percent of them died of infections or excessive bleeding) It was performed on young teenagers (12–13), and these slaves, both men and women were sold as slaves in the Middle East, under Alexander the Great and later in the Roman Empire. They were also sold all-around the Indian Ocean to the whole Indian subcontinent. Slavery was not an exclusive invention from Europe, but a very old invention attached to agriculture. Islam, when it arrives tried to make it more humane and the Prophet banned Muslim slaves and imposed some decent treatment, particularly conversion meant freedom, though the slave-owners had no interest in authorizing the slaves to convert to Islam. Slavery also existed in China. Admiral Zheng He who led eight voyages all around the Indian Ocean in the 15th century was a slave and he was castrated. He was a Muslim and that was the normal treatment of Muslim slaves in the Chinese Empire, with the fact that when castrated a male slave could become a close advisor of the Emperor, which is the case of Zheng He. And I concluded that we cannot reduce slavery to European slavery from West Africa to the Americas.
That’s when a person in the audience said that I could not forget lynching and European barbary in that slave trade. But Dr. Julianne Malveaux became extremely aggressive and definitely arrogant telling me that I knew nothing about slavery and that I should read two books. She did not know what I had published on the subject — and I have published a lot on the subject — and her stance seemed to mean that there was only one slave trade that had any importance. In other words, she dealt with what I said as if it were white supremacy and white nationalism. After closure, I tried to have a word with her and she brutally said, “I do not want to discuss it at all.” Condescence or fear?
My conclusion will go back to Dr. Patricia M. Lewis and her diversity. It is obvious that Dr. Julianne Malveaux is not ready to accept a let’s say well balanced and founded historical approach of slavery, and second, she is not ready to accept any kind of dissenting opinion. Diversity is not her mode of thinking. That’s a shame.
But to make sure she knows who I am I will only put on the table two facts. I was a member of the international committee supporting Angela Davis, whom I had the opportunity to meet in 1974 in Davis, California, and I was the first professor to introduce the first black novel on the syllabus of English 3 at the University of California at Davis in September 1973. The novel was Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. A good choice here, because the “debate” reveals the invisibility syndrome of some “non-”racist people who want everyone to behave the same, meaning like good well-behaved, politically correct white people. Guess who is coming to dinner tonight? I have read many recent novels from America who either do not have one single black person though the place where the action happens has a strong minority of Black people, and I have criticized it as being unfair. On the other hand, you have so many novels in which there are Black characters, but it is never said they are Black. We know it because of side-elements, like their music, their food, etc. They do not even speak the original language African Americans have developed in the USA. This is a serious problem. I am Jewish and I have had Jewish students in many of my classes. As a professor, I cannot in France wear a kippa, but the students can, and they don’t. I asked them why several times and suggested that they did in my classes, I wouldn’t mind. But they hide the kippa in their pocket because they are afraid of some violence. Diversity will only exist when everyone will be able to show their real personalities and be proud of it, be it Black, be it Asian, be it Arab, be it Jewish, be it Muslim, be it Buddhist, be it Christian too. In the last institutional class, I taught I had five religions and seven ethnic and national origins. And there were only thirteen students plus me. I was the Jew in the band. That is real diversity. If you cannot listen to other points of view, if you want only truthful information, you will never reach diversity.
That was a shame but so goes the plane and the world, it rolls, pitches and yaws according to the wind or, for a boat (that does not yaws), the waves.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU (Bordeaux, 1945)
He was educated at the University Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III, the University of California at Davis, and the University Charles de Gaulle Lille III in general structural linguistics, phylogenic linguistics, and Germanic linguistics. He was a visiting lecturer in UC Davis, U. Bordeaux III, U. Lille III, the Buddhist Center at Pidurangala Sri Lanka, U. Perpignan at Mende, U. Paris II Panthéon-Assas, U. Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, U. Paris-Dauphine, U. Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines at Mantes-la-Jolie, U. Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis. He holds two PhDs in Germanic linguistics and in Didactics of Foreign Languages.
His research has been essentially in linguistics, in English and American literature and arts, in drama, opera, and cinema. In 2003 he entered the field of Buddhism and Pāli linguistics and went back to phylogenic linguistics with his present research on the Language of Cro-Magnon and the relations between the phylogeny of language, the migrations of Homo Sapiens out of Black Africa and the classification of languages.
He is often working with younger assistants for various projects, among others Paula Osorio from Venezuela and Ivan Eve from Paris-Sorbonne. He has taken part and presented contributions in many international conferences in Europe, Northern America, and recently China. He is vastly published in the USA, in Europe, in New Zealand, and on the Internet as a researcher, a reviewer on the various Amazon sites, a researcher and a literary author at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and as an independent researcher at www.academia.edu and at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacques_Coulardeau. He is also a registered author at https://medium.com/@JacquesCoulardeau.
He just finished his thirteenth annual contract, which was the last, with Synopsis-Paie in Nice.
Eleven Most recent publications
I. “James Baldwin” & “Marcus Garvey,” entries in The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (EPC); ISBN 978–1–4443–3498–2, published in print on 4th January 2016, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
II. The Indian Ocean from Admiral Zheng He to Hub and Spoke Container Maritime Commerce, co-auteur Ivan EVE, Amazon Kindle, English Language, ASIN: B01AY2H0JC, Janvier 2016,
III. Freedom of Expression and Copyright (1100–2016), The Foundations of All liberties, (Research, 210 pages), Editions La Dondaine, March 13, 2017, Language: English, 492 pages, Amazon Kindle ASIN: B06XNJZ4W6
IV. Freedom of Expression and Copyright (1100–2016), The Foundations of All liberties, https://www.academia.edu/31829015/Freedom_of_Expression_and_Copyright_The_Foundations_of_All_Liberties (Documents, 550 pages) Free Open Access
V. Cro-Magnon’s Language, Emergence of Homo Sapiens — Invention of Articulated Language — Phylogeny of Language — Migrations Out of Africa — Three Articulations — Three Linguistic Families, Co-author Ivan EVE, Editions La Dondaine — 2017, @Amazon’s Kindle Stores, 760 pages, ASIN: B074DXJM5C.
VI. « Traduire pour le théâtre, trahir sans vergogne ou transcrire dans la frustration » + contribution de José Valverde « Libérez la parole de José Valverde », in Théâtres du Monde n° 28–2018, ISSN 1162–7638, avril 2018.
VII. “Mind-Language, the Expanding Heart of Cognition,” in Open Journal of Social Sciences, Volume 6, Number 6, June 2018, ISSN 2327–5952, pp. 32–47, Scientific Research Publishing Inc., SCIRP.org, Wuhan 430223, Hubei Province, China, 2018, DOI: 10.4236/jss.2018.66004
VIII. “No Cognition Without Communication,” in Psychology Research, Volume 8, Number 9, September 2018 (Serial Number 87), David Publishing Company, www.davidpublisher.com, the issue 9 of Psychology Research available at http://www.davidpublisher.com/Home/Journal/PR, and the article is in open access at http://www.davidpublisher.com/index.php/Home/Article/index?id=36921.html
IX. “Cognition Is Communication, Cognition = Communication, Cogniția Este Comunicare,” in Studii-de-Știinta-și-Cultură — Volumul XIV — Numarul 3 (54) 2018, pp.55–64, available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328887669_COGNITION_IS_COMMUNICATION
X. “Rire pour ne pas pleurer & pleurer pour oublier. Le théâtre toujours, drame et tragédie, comédie oxymoronique, Jean Moulin, Un Héros de l’Ombre,” Publication Date: December 12, 2018, Publication Name: Medium.com, A Study of Jean Moulin, Evangile, a Play by Jean-Marie Besset, 2016, https://medium.com/@JacquesCoulardeau/rire-pour-ne-pas-pleurer-pleurer-pour-oublier-cc93bbc54b5c
XI. “Revolution Among Mayanists, From Sir Eric (Thompson) To Real Epigraphy,” A review of Michael D. Coe, Breaking the Maya Code, 1992–1999–2012, Publication Date: January 5, 2019, Publication Name: medium.com, https://medium.com/@JacquesCoulardeau/revolution-among-mayanists-168ffdac0176