Actions and Detail Panel
Britain’s History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery
Wed 24 May 2017, 12:30 – 14:00 BST
Transatlantic slavery, just like the abolition movements, affected every space and community in Britain, from Cornwall to the Clyde, from dockyard alehouses to country estates. Today, its financial, architectural and societal legacies remain, scattered across the country in museums and memorials, philanthropic institutions and civic buildings, empty spaces and unmarked graves. Just as they did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, British people continue to make sense of this ‘national sin’ by looking close to home, drawing on local histories and myths to negotiate their relationship to the distant horrors of the ‘Middle Passage’, and the Caribbean plantation. This collection brings together localised case studies of Britain’s history and memory of its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and slavery. Editor and author Ryan Hanley (History, University of Oxford) joins an expert panel to discuss these essays, ranging in focus from eighteenth-century Liverpool to twenty-first-century rural Cambridgeshire, from racist ideologues to Methodist preachers, examining how transatlantic slavery impacted on, and continues to impact, people and places across Britain.
Ryan will be joined by:
Bob Harris (British History, University of Oxford)
Padraic Scanlan (International History, LSE)
This event will be chaired by Sebabatso Manoeli (African History, University of Oxford)
Free and all welcome. Lunch will be available from 12.30, with discussion from 13.00-14.00.
Please register to book your seat.
Dr Ryan Hanley
Ryan is the Salvesen Junior Fellow in History at the University of Oxford. He is interested in histories and literatures of slavery and abolition in Britain. He specialises in the roles taken by black people in British culture during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, within and beyond the antislavery movements of the period. Ryan has published articles on several of these prominent historical figures.
He is the author of Black Writing in Britain, 1770-1830 which examines the means by which black authors composed, published and marketed their texts, and how, when, where and why these were subsequently bought and read in Britain. It challenges the prevailing view of black authors as concerned solely with abolitionism or race, enabling a revaluation of their various contributions to a broad range of British social, religious and political concerns.
Ryan is also working on a project examining the relationships between working-class politics and antislavery sentiment in the 1820s. It charts the development of a new popular social consciousness based on respectability, compassion and fraternity by examining working people’s engagement with this key site of political engagement.
In 2015 Ryan was awarded the Royal Historical Society’s Alexander Prize for his article on James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, the first black author to be published in Britain.
Professor Bob Harris
Bob is Professor of British History at the University of Oxford. His research interests are diverse, but focus on the political, cultural and social history of Britain and Ireland in the long eighteenth century. His early work was on the rise of the newspaper press and the relationships between print culture and politics. This led him to a broader interest in the political culture of the British Isles in the central decades of the eighteenth century.
His published work on these themes includes the books Politics and the Rise of the Press: Britain and France 1600-1800 (1996) and Politics and the Nation: Britain in the mid eighteenth century (2002). Whilst in post previously at the University of Dundee, Bob developed a keen interest in Scottish history, notably the impact of the French revolution on Scottish politics and society, and on British political economy in the eighteenth century. His work on this includes the books The Scottish People and the French Revolution (2008) and jointly authored with C.A. McKean, The Scottish Town in the Age of the Enlightenment, 1740-1820, which won the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year prize for 2014.
Bob’s most recent book is a thematic biography of the radical aristocrat, Lord Daer entitled A Tale of Three Cities: The Life and Times of Lord Daer, 1763-1794 (2015). He is now working on a project on gambling and attitudes towards risk in Britain and the British empire between c.1660 and 1850.
Dr Padraic Scanlan
Padraic is an historian of Britain and its relationship to the wider world, with a particular focus on histories of slavery, capitalism and emancipation. His research centres on the practices and material history of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, and the effects of abolition on the governance of Britain and the British empire. He is also broadly interested in the social and administrative histories of bureaucrats and bureaucracies, and in the history of everyday economic life. His first book, Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution, is forthcoming in August 2017 from Yale University Press.
Padraic earned a BA (Hons) in History from McGill University in 2008, and a PhD in History from Princeton University in 2013. Before joining the LSE, he was a postdoctoral Prize Fellow in the Program in Economics, History and Politics at Harvard University. He is also a Research Associate at the Joint Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge. His forthcoming book is Freedom's Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution (Yale University Press), as part of the Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History.
Sebabatso teaches African History at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral work focuses on Southern Sudanese exile politics from the 1960s to the late 1980s and her research interests include Southern Sudanese intellectual and liberation histories as well as colonial social histories. She studied at Amherst College and the University of Oxford and previously worked for the Brenthurst Foundation, CDC Group, African Leadership Academy, as well as the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.
This event is part of Book at Lunchtime, a fortnightly series of bite size book discussions, with commentators from a range of disciplines.