Josefa’s Legacy: Cultural Defences Against Slavery and Trafficking

The legacy of an African slave, Josefa, offers exceptional potential to inform both a major historical debate about slave cultures and the legacies of slavery. 

Captured and shipped to Cuba for sale in the 1840s, Josefa kept alive the initiation rites to her Sierra Leonean family’s society. How and why she managed to do this demands exploration through both archival research and filmed oral interviews. 

Our methods include ethnographic techniques and traditional historical study. Its conclusions will address both ongoing historical debate and legal/advocacy issues relating to the fight against slavery and human trafficking. 

The project offers unparalleled insight into defences against slavery and the legacies of the slave trade in one small community over two centuries. It will also inform the fight against human trafficking today, preserving testimonies as part of a global initiative. 

Funding Agency

Australian Research Council / Discovery Project (DP170100580)


Associate Professor Emma Christopher

Organisational units