Changing Childhood: 'Liberated Minors', Guardianship, and the Colonial State in Senegal, 1895-1911
This article focuses on formerly enslaved children at the turn of the twentieth century, exploring their contributions to discourses about childhood, labor, and stigma in Senegal's colonial towns. Drawing on records for over 1,600 so-called 'liberated minors', children who entered state guardianship after official recognition of their liberation from slavery, and on a variety of other sources, the article investigates both broad trends and individual experiences of work, mistreatment, conflict, and -- sometimes -- defiance. I argue that while many liberated minors seemed to accept their circumstances, others complained, disobeyed, or ran away, thereby challenging lingering stigmas and highlighting ways the state fell short of the anti-slavery and humane ideals touted by some officials. Attentive, insofar as records allow, to the actions and perspectives of liberated minors, the article contributes to the growing literature on the history of children and youth in Africa and to scholarship on post-emancipation societies.