Slavery Routes – Black History Month at SOAS

Slavery Routes: 4 part Documentary Series (4×52′)

Date: 8 October 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 26 October 2018Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Type of Event: Film Screening

Dir. by Daniel Cattier, Juan Gélas, Fanny Glissant

Producers: Compagnie des Phares et Balises, ARTE France, Kwassa Films, RTBF, LX Filmes, RTP, Inrap

This is the story of a world whose territories and own frontiers were built by the slave trade. A world where violence, subjugation and profit imposed their routes. The history of slavery did not begin in the cotton fields. It is a much older tragedy, that has been going on since the dawn of humanity. From the VIIth century on, and for over 1,200 years, Africa was the epicenter of a gigantic traffic of human beings traversing the entire globe. Nubian, Fulani, Mandinka, Songhai, Susu, Akan, Yoruba, Igbo, Kongo, Yao, Somali… Over 20 million Africans were deported, sold and enslaved. This criminal system thrived, laying the foundations of empires around the world. Its scale was such that for a long time, it has been impossible to relate it comprehensively. And yet, it raises a fundamental question: how did Africa end up at the heart of the slavery routes?

Series convened by Dr Marie Rodet (SOAS Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies) and Dr Shihan de Silva (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)


Monday 08 October 2018 at SOAS University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre at 7pm-9pm

In presence of the filmmaker Juan Angelas, followed by a Q&A

Part 1: 476 – 1375: Beyond the desert

In 476 AD, Rome fell under the pressure of barbarian invasions. On the ruins of the Roman Empire, the Arabs founded an immense empire that stretched from the banks of the Indus to the South of the Sahara. Between Africa and the Middle East, a huge slave trade network was forged, that would last for centuries. At the heart of this continental network, two major merchant cities stood out. In the North, at the crossroads of the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, Cairo, the most important Muslim city and the main commercial hub of Africa. In the South, Timbuktu, the stronghold of the great West African empires, and point of departure of the trans-Saharan caravans. In this epic and documented story, the first episode of Slavery Routes tells 700 years of history and reveals how the sub-Saharan populations have become, over centuries, the main “raw material” of the greatest deportation in history.


Monday 15 October 2018 at SOAS University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre at 7pm-9pm

Q&A with Dr Vincent Hiribarren (Kings College)

Part 2: 1375 – 1620: For all the gold of the world

At the end of the Middle Ages, Europe opened up to the world and discovered that it was at the margins of the main area wealth generation on the planet: Africa. The Portuguese Conquistadores were the first to set out to conquer Africa. They went to get gold, and came back with hundreds of thousands of captives to sell in Europe. Between the African coasts, Brazil and their trading posts, the Portuguese set up the first colonies entirely populated by slaves. Off the coast of Gabon, the island of São Tomé became the testing ground for the most profitable exploitation system ever to exist: the sugar plantation…


Wednesday 24 October 2018 at SOAS University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre at 7pm-9pm

Q&A with Prof Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (University Paris – Diderot)

Part 3: 1620 – 1789: From sugar to rebellion

XVIIth century. The Atlantic has become the battlefield of the sugar war. French, English, Dutch and Spaniards fought for the Caribbean to cultivate sugar cane. To satisfy their dreams of fortune, the European Kingdoms opened new slavery routes between Africa and the islands of the New World. With the complicity of banks and insurance companies, they industrialized their methods and brought the number of deportations to unprecedented levels. Trapped, nearly 7 million African were caught up in a gigantic hurricane of violence.


Friday 26 October 2018 at SOAS University of London, Khalili Lecture Theatre at 7pm-9pm

Q&A with Dr Klara Boyer-Rossol (EPHE Paris)

Part 4: From 1789 to 1888: The new frontiers of slavery

In London, Paris and Washington, the abolitionist movement was gathering momentum. After the slave rebellion in Santo Domingo, and facing the public opinion’s growing outrage, the major European powers abolished the trans-Atlantic trade in 1807. Yet Europe, in the midst of the industrial revolution, could not do without the slave workforce. To satisfy its needs in raw materials, it pushed further the frontiers of slavery and turned a blind eye on the new forms of human exploitation in Brazil, the United States and Africa. At a time when legal trade was finally prohibited, the deportation of African captives would explode, and become more important than ever. Within 50 years, nearly 2.5 million were deported.


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Organisers: SOAS School of History, Philosophies and Religions, SOAS Centre of African Studies and Institute of Commonwealth Studies

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“Narrating Migrations”(3) Jakob Preuss, director of WHEN PAUL CAME OVER THE SEA: JOURNAL OF AN ENCOUNTER

In the second podcast from the workshop ‘Narrating Migrations’, held at the University of Portsmouth on 15 March 2017, documentary-filmmaker Jakob Preuss talks about his experiences filming When Paul Came Over the Sea (2017). The film charts the growth of an unusual but very real friendship in the context of the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean. 

The film shows Paul, who has made his way from his home in Cameroon across the Sahara to the Moroccan coast where he now lives in a forest waiting for the right moment to cross the Mediterranean. This is where he meets Jakob, a filmmaker from Berlin, who is filming along Europe’s borders. Soon afterwards, Paul manages to cross over to Spain on a rubber boat. He survives – but half of his companions die on this tragic 50 hour odyssey. Held for two months in a deportation centre, upon his release Paul meets Jakob again at a shelter for migrants in Southern Spain. When Paul decides to continue on to Germany, Jakob has to make a choice: will he become an active part of Paul’s pursuit of a better life or remain a detached documentary filmmaker?



Jakob Preuss is a documentary filmmaker based in Berlin and Tunis. WHEN PAUL CAME OVER SEA (2017), his latest film, had its international premiere at the Rotterdam film festival in January and last month won the Kiev Docu-Days festival Rights award. He has shot films in Iran, Bosnia, and Ukraine, and his work has been broadcast in more than ten countries and screened at numerous festivals. His previous film THE OTHER CHELSEA (2010) won the Max Ophüls Festival prize and the Grimme-Award in Germany. In addition to his activities as a filmmaker Jakob is also engaged in political work. He coordinated the writing of the electoral manifesto of Bündnis 90/ The Greens for the 2014 European Elections and has worked as an adviser on European Affairs for the Greens’ parliamentary group at the German Bundestag. In the past he has also worked as desk-officer for the Commonwealth of Independent States at the NGO “Reporters without Borders” and participated in numerous Election Observation Missions in the former Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2014 Jakob co-founded the initiative GehtAuchAnders (, which encourages artists to engage with political issues and take a public stance. Since 2014, he has been regularly invited to speak as a migration expert – as a direct result of the four years of research he conducted for his movie about Paul.

In his talk at the University of Portsmouth, Jakob discussed his experiences researching and shooting in the migrant camps of northern Morocco, with border patrols in the Mediterranean and in mainland Europe, and the relationship he established with Paul whose journey from his home in Cameroon to Europe forms the core of the film. He also discusses the ethics of filming in such circumstances, and the complex dynamics involved in the relationship between documentary filmmaker and protagonist. Click above to play the podcast.

For more information see, and #pauloverthesea on Twitter.  For the trailers to this and other movies by Weydemann Bros., check out