Enfilade

Exhibition | Tromelin: The Island of the Forgotten Slaves

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 27, 2015

Now on view at Château des Ducs de Bretagne:

Tromelin: L’île des esclaves oubliés / The Island of the Forgotten Slaves
Château des Ducs de Bretagne, Nantes, 17 October 2015 — 30 April 2016

97276_vignette_Affiche-Tromelin-chateauAfter leaving Bayonne on November 17, 1760, the Utile, a ship belonging to the French East India Company washed up on the Île de Sable (today: Tromelin Island—a 1-square-kilometer desert isle off the coast of Madagascar) on July 31, 1761. The ship was transporting 160 Malagasy slaves who were smuggled out of the country, intended to be sold to Île de France (now Mauritius). The crew returned to Madagascar on a raft, leaving 80 slaves on the island, with the promise to return and rescue them. Only fifteen years later, on November 29, 1776, did the ensign and future knight, Tromelin, return at the helm of the corvette La Dauphine. He rescued the eight surviving slaves: seven women and one eight-month child.

The goal of this exhibition is to recall an important period of maritime history along with the question of slavery and slave-trading in the Indian Ocean, illustrated by this shipwreck and the Malagasy survivors who tried to survive for nearly fifteen years on this tiny, inhospitable island.

The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the GRAN (Group Recherche en Archéologie Navale) and the INRAP (Institut National de Recherche Archéologique Préventive) for the excavations they performed on the island and underwater. Research on this shipwreck and the life of those who were ultimately rescued has been the focus of a multidisciplinary study with the aim of shedding light on the circumstances behind the tragic event. It also documents the living conditions of those who survived the best they could.