«Ahead to the Past»: Memory of the Slave Trade and Relationship Between African Americans and African Migrants in the United States

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Abstract. The article is based on the field evidence collected in seven states of the USA in 2013–2015. It shows how differences in the historic memory of African Americans and African migrants influence their mutual perceptions and relationship. The reflection in the both groups’ collective memory and mass consciousness of the transatlantic slave trade is most important in this respect. The slave trade is the event that gave rise to the very phenomenon of Black Americans and to the problem of the “Black world” and its history’s unity. It is argued in the article that the historic memory of the slave trade, slavery, and fight against it is of key importance for the African Amricans’ historic consciousness. As for the Africans, this memory is also important but, firstly, not to that degree and, secondly, they see slave trade differently: as history not of one Blacks’ betrayal by other Blacks, but of exploitation of the Blacks by the Whites. Significant differences in the perception, estimation, and attaching importance to the slave trade, slavery and anti-slavery struggle separate the groups of Black population, rather than unite them in the face of “White” America. The lack of the sense of historic unity alienates African Americans and African migrants from each other spiritually and mentally, thus contributing to the establishment of ambiguous and complicated relationship between them.

Keywords: African Americans, African migrants, United States, transatlantic slave trade, historic memory, social consciousness, intercultural interaction, “Black nationalism” ideologies.

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