Alice Bellagamba

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline Anthropology
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African Studies Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

Research project

Dealing with Silence: Memories of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Emancipation in Contemporary Gambia


Like other West African countries, since the 1990s The Gambia has started to valorize the cultural, social and economic connections created with Europe and the Americas by the Atlantic slave trade. Such official initiatives, which developed in the wake of the UNESCO Slave Routes Project, have overlooked the fact that slavery and the slave trade played an important role in the life of pre-colonial local communities both during the heyday of the Atlantic slave trade and after its abolition in the first half of the nineteenth century. Internal slavery legally ended only in 1930, and the history of the emancipation struggles of former slaves and slave descendants during colonial times is still sequestered from social memory.


This silenced past will be at the core of the book I aim to write during my stay at the Wissenschaftskolleg. By combining historical and ethnographical sources, I will explain the reasons for silence and dialogue with broader debates on the legacy of slavery, the recovery of subaltern voices, and the political and cultural dynamics restraining the recovery and public display of difficult pasts.


Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African Studies Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca. She holds a PhD of Cultural Anthropology from the University of Torino. In 2004-2005, Alexander vom Humbolt Fellow at the University of Bayreuth.

Selected publications


Bellagamba A., Greene S., Klein M. (eds.), African voices on slavery and the slave trade, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press 2013.


Bellagamba A., My elderly friends of The Gambia: masculinity and social presence in the later part of life, Cahiers d’Études Africaines, LIII (1-2), 209-210 (2013), pp. 345-366


Bellagamba A., Greene S., Klein M. (eds.), The bitter legacy. Africa slavery past and present, Princeton: Markus Weiner 2013.


Bellagamba A., Reasons for silence: following the inner legacy of slavery and the slave trade in the contemporary Gambia, in Arajuo A. L. (ed.), Politics of Memory: Making Slavery Visible in the Public Space, London: Routledge 2012, pp. 35-53.


Bellagamba A., “Silence is Medicine!” Ending Slavery and Promoting Social Coexistence in Post-Abolition Gambia, in Klute G. and Embaló B., Birgit (eds.), The problem of Violence. Local Conflict Settlement in Contemporary Africa, Cologne: Köppe Verlag 2012, pp. 445-476.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Sociology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Sociology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Psychology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Cultural Studies