Abolition in Joseph Conrad’s African Writings: A Discourse Analysis

Mouloud + Sabrina SIBER + ZERAR


This paper has studied the issue of abolition in the African writings of Joseph Conrad. Written and published in the last decade of the nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth centuries when the British campaign against King Leopold II’s slave system in the Congo was active, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “An Outpost of Progress” and his letters to Roger Casement, the British diplomat who was charged to investigate on the atrocities of the Congo in 1903, are taken to be part of the British effort to eradicate the slavery system in the colonies. These writings are read through the principles of the British abolitionists who revealed to the world the atrocities exerted upon the natives of Africa in the name of the so-called humanitarian principle of the imperial project. Conrad’s abolitionism reveals itself in his claim for an international campaign against the slavery system in Africa. It also reveals itself in his depiction of the atrocities exerted upon the Africans: inhuman exploitation, starvation, punishment and death. All these wicked aspects of the slave system are denounced by the abolitionists, and Conrad adheres to their denunciation.

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