Historical Memory of the 19th-Century Arab Slave Trade in Modern-Day Tanzania: Between Family Trauma and State-Planted Tolerance
The article highlights the results of field research conducted in Tanzania in August-September 2018, focused on historical memory about Arab slave trade in East Africa and Indian Ocean in the 19-th century and its influence on modern-day interethnic relations in the country.
The evidence shows that the Tanzanian and Zambian university students representing the African by origin overwhelming majority of the countries' population are generally tolerant towards their compatriots of the non-African (European and South Asian) origins. However, the evidence also gives reason to argue that the level of tolerance among the Zambian students is higher than among Tanzanian. The examination of a number of factors that supposedly could lead to the Zambian educated youth's higher level of tolerance has shown that the most significant among them are those related to the two nations' history since the pre-colonial time, the memory of it, and the use and abuse of this memory by the post-colonial states. From the historical point of view the greatest essential difference between the two cases lies in the existence since pre-colonial time of the Swahili culture and language and of the minimal number of expansionist centralized polities on the contemporary state's territory as the background for autochthonous peoples' unity in Tanzania and lack of such a background in pre-colonial Zambia.
The historiography of the XXIst c., which had been shaped by the influence of the so-called cultural turn, created a new field of research 'the history of historical culture'. This book presents a study of historical culture where the latter is approached through the synthesis of social, cultural and intellectual history. Intellectual phenomena have been placed in broad context of social experience, historical mentality and general intellectual processes. How did people view events (of their own lives, or of the life of their groups, but also of History) which they took part in? How did they evaluate them? How did they record and transmit information about those events while interpreting what had been seen or lived through? These questions are of great interest. Subjectivity combined with this information reflects views of a social group or of the society as a whole, but at the same time it shows cultural and historical features of its time.
The special issue explores the manifold relations between history, memory, and anthropological research. Explicitly or not, history has always been a particular reference for anthropological research. First of all, anthropologists most often deal with the past not only when attempting to reconstruct past events and conditions, but rather to look at social change, innovation, and transformation, enabling then to position their findings in larger theoretical perspectives. Moreover, many anthropologists are primarily interested in the ways in which people perceive societal changes, experience and represent them and relate them to their various world-views at large. In these endeavors, the notion of history itself became the center of debate, which shifted the attention of many scholars away from an absolute or etic frame of reference to primarily an emic understanding of its meaning with regard to local issues and life-worlds. Thus, the interaction between History and Anthropology was not simple in the past and is not so today. Whatever the particular interest or approach to history for anthropologists may be, history is therefore not just a neutral domain. From a social-constructivist perspective, history is a part of a distinct local cultural and symbolic universe and represents the result of social processes of selection, remembrance and oblivion. The ‘memory boom’ in anthropology triggered many studies in Africanist scholarship as well, for example, on the way in which historical memories were used by both protagonists of colonialism and national-liberation movements; or as a means of state propaganda by postcolonial regimes.
Zambian students are more tolerant first of all because of the existence since precolonial time of the Swahili culture in Tanzania and lack of such a background for national unity in Zambia. Besides, the memory of this is consciously used and abused by governments for the sake of nation-building.
The paper examines the history of dissemination in 14th-17th centuries in different european countries (especially in Eastern Europe), of one curious text, known as the "Privilege of Alexander the Great for the Slavs." Particular attention was given to the specifically Russian version of this text appeared in the latter half of the XVI century.
The author discusses the meaning of zhe term "the Middle Ages".