Tuesday, January 10, 2006

French Historians Intimidated by Threat of Human Rights (sic) Lawsuits

Besides Jérôme Gautheret's article on the history of the slave trade and his interview of CNRS historian Nelly Schmidt, Le Monde has an article on the Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau affair, in which the historian and author of Les Traites négrières — Essai d'histoire globale (Le Monde Economie du 23 novembre 2004) is being sued by a human rights organisation for being the equivalent of a holocaust denier.

The suit is based on the Taubira law calling slavery a crime against humanity, and that, when his award-winning book (based on Anglo-Saxon-style global history) does nothing more than put Western slavery in perspective to that of the rest of the world (countering commonly-held views such as those that hold that slavery was mainly a Western manifestation, slavery in the Islamic world was of a more benign kind that that in the Americas, or that the crossing of the Sahara was less painful than the crossing the Atlantic). Historians the country over feel intimidated.

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