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Slavery, Antislavery, and the British Empire

General Programming

dateApril 8, 2022 timeFriday, 11:00am–12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • This event will be in person at the Heyman Center and streamed online. Registration mandatory.

  • New York-Cambridge Training Collaboration in Twentieth-Century British History (NYCTC)
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Drawing of 17th century man and map of England in reversed B&W color scheme

In the eighteenth century, the British empire in the Atlantic grew through the brutal exploitation of enslaved laborers on Caribbean sugar plantations. In the nineteenth century, Britain abolished its slave trade, and then slavery in its colonial empire. And yet, ascendant antislavery presumed British power and superiority – the abolition of slavery seemed to prove that Britain was modern, enlightened, and fit to govern the empire slavery had made. There was a wide gulf between the gradualist politics and civilizing mission of the antislavery movement in Britain and the demands of enslaved revolutionaries in Britain’s Caribbean colonies.

Padraic X. Scanlan is Assistant Professor in the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD in History from Princeton University in 2013 and is the author of Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution (Yale, 2017), which was awarded the 2018 James A. Rawley Prize and the 2018 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, and Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain (Robinson, 2020). He is writing The Irish Question, a history of British land reform and political economy in the era of the Irish Famine to be published by Robinson (UK) and Basic Books (USA).