Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA American University of Beirut; MA American University of Beirut; PhD Georgetown University
Research Areas: French colonial empire
Soha El Achi is a historian of slavery in the French colonial empire. She earned her PhD in history from Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the enslavement and emancipation of children in French Algeria and Tunisia in the nineteenth century, and her interests include missionaries, charity work, and social reform in the metropole and the colonies.
In her current book project, she adopts a trans-regional approach to write a micro-history of slavery and childhood in Algeria and Tunisia. In the second half of the nineteenth century, both the slave trade and slavery were illegal in France’s colonial empire. Yet, from the fringes of the Sahara to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, thousands of slaves, most of them women and children, continued to be sold, bought and freed during that period. The book uncovers the experiences of servitude and liberation of enslaved girls and boys in the 1870s-1890s when France was expanding its imperial territory in Africa and undergoing profound political and social changes at home under the Third Republic. Soha is also involved in a research project investigating the connections between slavery in Libya during the nineteenth century and human trafficking in the context of the current migrant crisis.
Before moving to Abu Dhabi, Soha lived and worked in the United States, France, and Lebanon.