a1 KITLV, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For centuries, major European states were involved in the Atlantic slave trade and in slavery in their colonies in the Americas. In the last decade, this subject has attracted serious but uneven attention in Europe beyond the realms of descendants and academia. The British, French and Dutch governments have engaged with the subject, expressing remorse and stimulating public commemorations. Portugal and Spain on the other hand have hardly addressed the subject. The reason for this remarkable divergence, the author suggests, lies with divergent commemorative traditions and the fact that the two Iberian countries have no substantial Caribbean communities as visible reminders of this past. The last part of the article discusses some problems associated with the politicized rediscovery of these embarrassing chapters in European history.