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Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe

“La femme esclave:” Afterlives of Slavery and Abolitionism in Women’s Rights Movements in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, 1832-1914

I have been working since 2016, thanks to separate funding from NWO (the Dutch research council), on a project called “La femme esclave:” Afterlives of Slavery and Abolitionism in Women’s Rights Movements in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, 1832-1914.  I examine the ways in which women’s rights discourses in Europe were informed by the cultural memory of the antislavery struggle. Over the course of the long nineteenth century, the model of slavery and abolition was routinely invoked to express the injustices suffered by women and to mobilize for change, from the “slavery” of married women to the “white slavery” of prostitution. Overall I hope to explain how the cultural memory of the abolitionist movement in the Anglo-American world was carried into Europe by narratives in text and images, and how this memory then shaped the discourse of women’s rights movements in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.