Author: Mary Wills

‘Decolonising the Archive’ workshop report: challenging ‘otherness’ and inherent hierarchies

By Mary Wills, Wilberforce Institute

Organised by the Antislavery Usable Past and funded under the auspices of the Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘Care for the Future: Thinking Forward Through the Past’ theme, the ‘Archives into the Future’ seminar series has provided a forum for creative debate about the issues facing archives today. The final workshop in the series was held at Friends House in London on 26 March 2019. The theme for consideration and discussion was ‘Decolonising the Archive’. Continue reading

Workshop announcement: Archives into the Future, Decolonising the Archive

possible antislavery delegation in london (small)
Image: ‘No Caption [anti-slavery delegation to London?]’, Alice Seeley Harris, 1911-12, courtesy of Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Archives care for the past, but what is their role in caring for the future? The ‘Archives into the Future’ seminar series, organised by Antislavery Usable Past, provides a forum for creative debate about the issues facing archives today and seeks to explore innovative approaches towards using archives in the future.

On 26 March 2019 at Friends House in London, the final ‘Archives into the Future’ workshop will consider ‘Decolonising the Archive’. The issue of decolonising institutions has received increasing attention, with demands that universities, museums and other institutions challenge frameworks that prioritise Eurocentric perspectives. Continue reading

‘Gentlemen slavers’ and other themes of wealth and enrichment in the Remembering 1807 archive

By Mary Wills, Wilberforce Institute

The recent announcement from the University of Glasgow that it benefited from donations from the profits of slavery amounting to the equivalent of tens of millions of pounds serves as another reminder of the long and complex money trail behind Britain’s role in transatlantic slavery. The way that universities, museums, religious bodies and other institutions around the world deal with the legacy of benefactors with links to slavery has become a major area of debate. These difficult histories must be acknowledged and confronted when assessing the place of transatlantic slavery in Britain’s public history. The Remembering 1807 archive highlights the ways in which heritage organisations and community groups around the UK tackled such uncomfortable questions in 2007.

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Museums of Forgetting and Remembering

Guest blog by historian David Alston, contributor to the Remembering 1807 archive

It is now about twenty years since I became interested in the involvement of Scots in the slave plantations of the Caribbean. From my own still limited research I could see that it was extensive. Yet on my first visit to The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, shortly after it opened in 1998, I noted that there was not a single reference to slavery, the slave trade, or slave-worked plantations. While migration from Ireland to Scotland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was deemed to be important, with a whole gallery devoted to the ‘movement of peoples’, the involvement of Scots in the forced migration of twelve million Africans to the Caribbean and North America did not merit one word. How could a national institution, with all the benefits of modern scholarship, not notice this?

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Launch event for Remembering 1807 digital archive

pjimage (9)Please join us to launch Remembering 1807, a new digital archive of commemorative activity relating to the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition. This free event will take place at the Museum of London Docklands on 20 September, 6.30 – 8 pm.

Please register for the launch to hear more about this new resource, a collection of the Antislavery Usable Past Archive.

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Remembering 1807, Archiving 2007

By Mary Wills, Wilberforce Institute

At the Wilberforce Institute we are in the final stages of collecting materials for ‘Remembering 1807’, a digital archive of materials from UK projects which in 2007 commemorated the bicentenary of the abolition of the British transatlantic slave trade. The archive will go live this September, and will be one of the major resources in the Antislavery Usable Past’s online portal, providing primary source materials to be used in future antislavery scholarship, teaching and learning.

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The Iron in the Ivory Towers: Dealing with Georgetown’s legacies of enslavement

This post by Katarina Schwarz also features on the blog of the Re-presenting slavery: making a public usable past project.

Many universities and colleges benefitted from human enslavement and exploitation, and Georgetown University, Washington was no exception. What is exceptional about Georgetown’s case is how well documented those connections are, and now the nature of the attempt to reckon with them.

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A New Curriculum for Hull – Usable Past in Action

By Rebecca Nelson, Wilberforce Institute

Since September I’ve been working as an intern with Hull’s Heritage Learning team. They are responsible for the educational offers across the museum sites in Hull, working with schools from the local area and beyond. For 2017, coinciding with the City of Culture programme, Heritage Learning are launching a new history curriculum for schools in the Hull area. This explores the history of Hull from its origins in the medieval period, to the modern day, through key events and characters. Teachers were consulted about the topics they wanted to see on the curriculum, with an original list of over 150 being whittled down to just 20.

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Stay Safe from Slavery Conference

Business Card Front CMYK V5

Unchosen are delighted to announce an innovative conference called Stay Safe from Slavery, focusing on new ways of preventing Modern Slavery in the UK. The conference takes place at the University of Nottingham on 21 June 2017. The university’s Research Priority Area in Rights and Justice and Antislavery Usable Past project is partnering on the conference, in conjunction with work to make Nottingham a slavery-free city.

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Empires of Charity Workshop

Mary Wills will be presenting at the University of Warwick’s Poverty Research Network workshop on 3 March 2017. The Poverty Research Network brings together scholars from different disciplines, working on broad themes of poverty and social justice from the local to the global level. The ‘Empires of Charity‘ workshop looks to explore the relationship between systems of charity and imperialism broadly defined within a global framework. Mary will be speaking on the British anti-slavery cause in nineteenth-century West Africa, and how abolitionism became intertwined with concepts of imperialism, philanthropy and humanitarianism.

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