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From Slavery to Aid
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Book description

From Slavery to Aid engages two major themes in African historiography, the slow death of slavery and the evolution of international development, and reveals their interrelation in the social history of the region of Ader in the Nigerien Sahel. Benedetta Rossi traces the historical transformations that turned a society where slavery was a fundamental institution into one governed by the goals and methods of 'aid'. Over an impressive sweep of time - from the pre-colonial power of the Caliphate of Sokoto to the aid-driven governments of the present - this study explores the problem that has remained the central conundrum throughout Ader's history: how workers could meet subsistence needs and employers fulfil recruitment requirements in an area where natural resources are constantly exposed to the climatic hazards characteristic of the edge of the Sahara.


‘Benedetta Rossi connects the specificities of place with the importance of connections across space, and she connects the continuities of a former slave society with the development initiatives of a colonial and post-colonial state. She uses her rich ethnographic and historical material to analyse insightfully the meaning of unequal social and economic relations, within a region, within an African state, and in relation to the external world.’

Frederick Cooper - New York University

‘A magisterial study of how a desert-side slave labor system in Niger is transformed by French conquest into a forced-labour system, and then by modern development agendas. It is also a story of how people survive under difficult circumstances.’

Martin Klein - University of Toronto

‘In this pathbreaking application of historical anthropology, Benedetta Rossi explores the shifting boundaries of social relationships in the West African Sahel. The politics of labour on the margins of desert and savanna marked the northern frontier of the Islamic Sokoto Caliphate and determined the impact of the colonial and post-colonial state. From Slavery to Aid unpacks the transformations of society on the ecological edge.’

Paul E. Lovejoy - Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, York University, Toronto

'… well-organized, clearly written, and easily digested … From Slavery to Aid successfully blends archival research with ethnographic fieldwork, making it an exceptional specimen of historical anthropology.'

D. Dmitri Hurlbut Source: African Studies Quarterly

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