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Remembering Slavery Means Sharing Cultural Heritage

Total Foundation has supported France’s Foundation for the Memory of Slavery (known by its French acronym FME) since its creation in 2019, in line with its commitment to cultural dialogue and heritage. Explaining history is key to understanding the heritage of past generations, which forms the basis of our identity, as well as promoting diversity, combating racial discrimination and prejudice and fostering informed debate.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, 13 million men and women were sold, exploited and trafficked between Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. While colonial slavery was abolished in France in 1848, it has left a lasting mark on society, and misconceptions and injustices persist even today.

Passing Down History, Sharing Cultural Diversity

The FME is chaired by Jean-Marc Ayrault and run by Dominique Taffin, French Curator General of Heritage and former Head of Archives for Martinique. It has three goals: facilitate understanding, particularly among young people, of the global French identity that has emerged from four centuries of interaction between France, Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean; demonstrate how overseas France has enriched the national culture; and show how the fight to abolish slavery shaped the values of the French Republic. A registered public-interest foundation, the FME is organized as a resources center that works to advance knowledge of the slave trade, slavery and the resistance movements they gave rise to. It also serves as a forum for discussion and innovation, taking its lead from current affairs. With this in mind, the FME works at the center of a vast network of regional partners.

Values Championed by Total Foundation

Through this partnership, Total Foundation aims to help shine a spotlight on different areas of cultural, artistic and human heritage, while highlighting the vitality of the rich and diverse spectrum of cultures that this history brought about. Underpinning this goal is the belief that broadening one’s horizons by taking ownership of the past is a vital first step to empowering young people and teaching them the skills necessary for civic participation and social cohesion.

For this reason, as part of the partnership, Total Foundation has committed to funding a research program that will gather scientifically sound data on these sensitive yet influential topics. To spread knowledge, Total Foundation will also earmark part of its contribution for initiatives aimed at passing down the history of slavery and the legacy it has left in the fields of culture and heritage to younger generations.