Lecture: Decolonising Legal History of Abolitionism

Event date
16 July 2024
Event time
17:00 - 18:15
Oxford week
TT 13
Bonavero Institute: Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium

Dr José Lingna Nafafé

Notes & Changes

This event is open to anyone but priority will be given to members of the University, particularly students and tutors of the Summer School in International Human Rights Law and the MSc in International Human Rights Law. This is an in-person event.  

Africans’ involvement in the abolition of slavery is often confined to cases of shipboard revolts, maroon communities and individual fugitives from slavery. In this paper, the author examines the highly-organised, international-scale legal case for ending slavery in the seventeenth century headed by Angolan nobleman Lourenço da Silva Mendonça, and the Vatican verdict to the case through eleven propositions, and new evidence that has come to light since the publication of my book Lourenço da Silva Mendonça and the Black Atlantic Abolitionist Movement in the Seventeenth Century. In his address to the Vatican, Mendonça questioned the institution of  Atlantic slavery using: Human, Natural, Divine, and Civil laws. The author argues that Mendonça’s relationship with New Christians, Native Brazilians and other Africans was central to the distinct case he made for universal human rights, liberty, and humanity. Based on this new evidence, the author argues that the Vatican’s verdict on Mendonça’s case was a universal condemnation of the Atlantic slave trade, yet the Christian states of Europe failed to honour it.


About the speaker

Dr. José Lingna Nafafé, Senior Lecturer in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies, Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Bristol.


Found within

Human Rights Law