Haratin, the mask of modern slavery – portraits

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

These portraits, by Luca Catalano Gonzaga, have been taken 50 years after Richard Avedon shot the portrait of the enslaved William Casby, entitled “Born in Slavery”. They tell about the Haratin people of Mauritania, descendants of the Black Moors, the historically enslaved population “owned” by the White Moors, a powerful minority. Although “Haratin” means literally “those who have been freed”, these women and men still live in slavery, generation after generation, treated by everyone else as a ‘property’: something only worth buying, selling, trading or destroying. Haratins live in villages in the countryside, work a land which is not theirs and don’t receive a salary or any other form of compensation. In the villages of Daguag, Jedida, Tejala (Brakna District), Mbeida (Gorgol District), many Haratin who have been invited by the leader of their village wait for their turn to have their picture taken inside a hut, anonymously. (text by Luca Catalano Gonzaga).


A selection of photos from the archive of Luca Catalano Gonzaga is available as collector’s prints. The goal of print selling is to contribute to the realization of the photographic projects of Witness Image that narrate the great transformations of our time.