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The Antislavery Knowledge Network

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Preventing slavery through the arts in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

A significant number of Sub-Saharan African countries are on the Global Slavery Index. Modern-day slavery is an urgent and complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution.

With this innovative project, we are tackling slavery at its source, aiming to prevent it from happening in the first place. We will promote awareness of the triggers that can lead people to become enslaved within countries that have a high slavery risk. Specifically, we’ll investigate the power of culture to communicate the potential pitfalls of slavery – and establish original arts projects in-country.

Watch: Professor John Oldfield in conversation with filmmaker, activist and former Human Rights Commissioner Brima Sheriff.

Antislavery Knowledge Network is working with filmmakers in Sierra Leone to shed light on vulnerable seaside communities.


Lead researchers


Project funded by

Arts & Humanities Research Council

We’re collaborating with the Universities of Liverpool and Nottingham to establish preventative slavery measures in three countries that are on the UN’s poverty risk register: Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

Our focus is Sierra Leone, and specifically Hull’s twin city Freetown, where we’ll be working with well-established links cultivated from our previous work. Initially we will scope what might be possible – discussing what is needed and what might work with those who live and work on the ground.

New and unique arts initiatives will then be created and established in-country. Each of these will in some way demonstrate the ways that somebody could unwittingly fall into slavery. They will vary from smaller to larger scale projects and will target different age ranges. These may include anything from performances to storytelling to exhibitions.

We will work with pupils and schools to develop their own projects on a number of heritage sites and create an education programme centring on child trafficking for schools and cultural partners.

Projects will be piloted and evaluated to create a working model before commissioning further arts-based community projects through a formal tendering process with NGOs.

The Impact

This will educate citizens about the potential dangers that can lead them to becoming enslaved and help them avoid becoming trapped in slavery in the first place. Our hope is that younger audiences will be empowered to go on to shape a better future for their communities.

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Other completed research projects

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