History Education and Transatlantic Colonial Slavery

1 June 2017, 10:00am-5:00pm, Wilberforce Room, Museum of London in Docklands


Image taken from Ten Views in the Island of Antigua, in which are represented the process of sugar making, and the employment of the negroes… From drawings made by W. Clark, etc. (With descriptive letterpress), London : Thomas Clay, 1823. Image © British Library.

We would like to invite you to a workshop on the 1 June 2017 at the Museum of London in Docklands focused on new approaches to teaching the history of transatlantic colonial slavery.

Transatlantic slavery and its abolition continues to be taught widely in secondary schools across Britain. This workshop is designed to give teachers and other education professionals access to current academic scholarship and new pedagogical approaches to teaching this history. The event will contribute towards building a network of educators to offer leadership for the transformation of teaching and learning about transatlantic slavery in our schools and other educational environments. This workshop will be an opportunity to share ideas and to think about the development of guidelines for effective practice and scholarship that can be available to schools in the coming year.

Registration is free and lunch and refreshments will be provided. Please book your place here:

This event is funded by the British Academy and is a partnership between the Antislavery Usable Past project (University of Nottingham), University College London-Institute of Education, Justice to History, and the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, University College London. With kind support from the Museum of London in Docklands.

9:30-10:00       Registration (Refreshments served)

10:00-10:10     Welcome

10:10-11:10     Session 1: Historicising Race (60 minutes)

Speaker TBC

Session focus: Political and moral dimensions of teaching about transatlantic slavery

Key questions: Why should we teach about slavery and colonialism? Why should we engage with race and how should we frame the engagement? What events and historiographical debates are key to our understanding of the constitution of race over time? How and why should we acknowledge race and racism in the classroom?

11:10-11:25     Break (Refreshments served)

11:25-12:55     Session 2: Transatlantic Slavery: Pedagogical Approaches (90 minutes)

Abdul Mohamud and Robin Whitburn (Justice to History / UCL-IOE)

Session focus: The pedagogical dimensions of teaching about the transatlantic slave trade and New World colonial slavery.

Key questions: What are the pedagogical challenges of this work? How should we approach issues of empathy, race, activism and uniqueness?

12:55-13:55     Lunch (Food served)

13:55-14:55     Session 3: Legacies of British Slave-ownership (60 minutes)

Nick Draper (Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, UCL)

Session focus: New historiographical developments in the field of transatlantic slavery and abolition.

Key questions: Where does slave-ownership fit into the national narrative of Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery? How does this research feed into current debates on slavery and its abolition? How does this shift in focus change the way we think and teach about slavery? What resources are there to support teaching about British participation in transatlantic slavery?

14:55-15:10     Break (Refreshments served)

15:10-16:40     Challenging 2007: Representation and Remembrance (90 minutes)

Local Roots / Global Routes: Toyin Agebtu (Ligali), Lucy Capes (Hackney B Six), Katie Donington (University of Nottingham), Kristy Warren (University of Nottingham), Emma Winch (Hackney Museum)

Session focus: Understanding the historical, political and cultural dimensions of the role of representation and remembrance in the classroom.

Key questions: What issues are at stake in the representation of slavery (race, class, gender, nation, empire)? How can we develop strategies of representation that are both appropriate and critical? Whose voice shapes our understanding of the historical narrative? How can we include multiple voices and perspectives? Are there ways of working across institutions and disciplines that can open up new avenues of representation and remembrance?

Each 60 minute session will involve:

  • 40 minute presentation by speakers
  • 20 minutes audience responses

The 90 minute sessions will also involve:

  • 30 minutes small group discussion around tables feeding into the development of ideas for writing a set of guiding principles for the teaching of transatlantic slavery

Stay Safe from Slavery Conference

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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.

The 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy highlighted prevention as vital to the fight against slavery in the UK, and aimed to “protect vulnerable people by raising awareness and stopping them from becoming victims.” However, preventative programmes are today few and far between – understandably, the focus is very much on finding and protecting victims. Unchosen’s Stay Safe from Slavery conference asks – how can we protect the vulnerable? How can we stop those who are homeless, refugees, migrants or children in care from falling victim to exploitation? What are the new approaches in this field?

This conference invites a wide audience to challenge the status quo and look at innovative ways of approaching the prevention of slavery. The conference will appeal to the anti-slavery sector, frontline workers who work with vulnerable groups, as well as homeless charities, refugee and migrant groups, those working with children in care and care leavers – and the growing number of academics working on Modern Slavery.

Speakers include representatives from GLAA, Border Force, University of Nottingham, ECPAT, Homeless and refugee charities.

The conference coincides with a new project called Stay Safe from Slavery that Unchosen is currently developing.

Book now – for early bird tickets at £55 per person before 31 March, £75 after.

Any questions, please email

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.


Seminar at the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, Liverpool

Three members of the Antislavery Usable Past team – Katie Donington, Rebecca Nelson and Mary Wills – will speak about the project and their own research at a seminar organised by the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool on 7 February, 5pm-7pm. Mary Wills will be speaking on ‘Commemorating slavery and abolition in the UK: heritage, memory and activism’, Rebecca Nelson on ‘The Many Faces of the Modern Museum’ and Katie Donington on ‘Red rubber in sepia: slavery, memory and representation in the Democratic Republic of Congo’.

Admission is free. Details of how to register, and more info, can be found on the Centre for the Study of International Slavery website.

Slavery and Public History Workshop

We are delighted to invite you to a workshop in Liverpool on Wednesday 8 February 2017 examining the ways in which the history of slavery and its abolition have been explored within public history.

Museums, country houses, the streets we walk down and the places we call home – they all have stories to tell us about the past. The workshop programme will explore how different kinds of public historians and organisations have represented Britain’s historic role in both slavery and its abolition. Throughout the day we will hear from museum and heritage professionals, community historians and academics – there will be plenty of opportunities to ask them questions and join in the debate. There will be an open session for people to discuss new projects and ideas giving participants a chance to see how we might help each other and get involved. A walking tour of Liverpool will allow participants to see first hand how the history of slavery has shaped the city of Liverpool.

Registration is free and lunch and refreshments will be provided.

This event is funded by the British Academy and is a partnership between the International Slavery Museum, the Antislavery Usable Past project and the University of Nottingham.

Historians Against Slavery Conference 2017


In October 2017, Historians Against Slavery will hold its biennial conference outside of the United States for the first time, at the International Slavery Museum (ISM) in Liverpool. The two-day conference – ‘Using History to Make Slavery History’ – will mark the 10th Anniversary of the ISM as well as Black History Month 2017. It is co-hosted by Historians Against Slavery, the ISM, the Centre for the Study of International Slavery (University of Liverpool) and the Antislavery Usable Past project.

Connecting past with present, we will deepen dialogue and collaboration between scholars, teachers, activists and community representatives, and build coalitions for antislavery scholarship and activism. Our panels, workshops and plenary sessions will bring together a distinguished body of leading scholars, museum professionals and antislavery activists from around the world, reflecting on cutting-edge scholarship and debating practical examples of how history can inform contemporary efforts to end the enslavement of 46 million people worldwide.

Registration for the conference is free and includes lunch on both days. Conference attendees are responsible for transportation, lodging and evening meals. We will announce speakers in March 2017.

Historians Against Slavery is a community of scholar-activists who contribute research and historical context to today’s antislavery movement, in order to inspire and inform activism and to develop collaborations that empower such efforts. Based in the US with an 800-strong membership, it launched a UK chapter in 2016.

The International Slavery Museum opened in August 2007 during the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. By 2016 it had welcomed nearly 4 million visitors. It is the only museum of its kind to look at aspects of historical and contemporary slavery as well as being an international hub for resources on human rights issues. It is located in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, at the centre of a World Heritage site and only yards away from the dry docks where 18th-century slave trading ships were repaired and fitted out.

The Centre for the Study of International Slavery (CSIS) was founded in 2006 by National Museums Liverpool and the University of Liverpool to collaborate with international and local communities of scholars researching slavery, abolition and their legacies ahead of the opening of the International Slavery Museum on 23 August 2007. It supports and shares leading research about human enslavement and its legacies, and works together with other universities and organisations to develop scholarly and public activities related to slavery in its historical and contemporary manifestations.


‘Unspeakable Things Unspoken:’ Transatlantic Slavery – A Public Conversation (12-13 October 2016, Nottingham Contemporary)

This conference will examine the ways in which slavery has figured in public history in Britain. It will consider how academic history has shaped public perceptions of slavery and how public debate has challenged and inspired scholarship. It will give critical attention to the ways in which slavery and colonialism has shaped both our public and academic history institutions. Given the increasing emphasis on ‘impact’ within university research agendas the event will offer new possibilities for building relationships across academic and public history. Public history will be conceived of in its broadest sense and speakers will be invited from among museum and heritage professionals, artists, community historians, activists, academics, poets, performers and educators.


From the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Engaging the Maangamizi: Intergenerational Justice and Repair

By Katarina Schwarz, Queens University Belfast

Professor Jean Allain hosted a two-day event on 29 and 30 June 2016, From the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Engaging the Maangamizi, in collaboration with David Archard, leader of an Arts and Humanities Research Council Care for the Future Exploratory Award entitled ‘Generating Justice: The social, legal, political and ethical issues of ensuring justice across generations’. The first day of the event featured a Public Forum, an Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights and Justice co-hosted with the African and Caribbean Support Network of Northern Ireland (ACSONI) entitled Dealing with the Past, Looking to the Future. A pre-Conference Workshop, Historical Injustice and Reparations, took place on the second day, co-hosted by Dr Jeremy Watkins from Queens University Belfast and coinciding with the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s Annual Conference of the Society of Applied Philosophy held in Belfast.

The Public Forum focused on community engagement, working with ACSONI to reach out to the local African and Caribbean communities as well as the broader public (see pictures). Scholar activists, academics, and public officials from across the UK and Ireland were brought together to discuss research, activism, and policy with the participants. Presenters engaged with the feedback, questions, and views of the public, creating multilateral discourse. Irish experiences of colonialism and anti-imperialism were acknowledged, building solidarity between people of African descent in Northern Ireland and the Irish Catholic community. This solidarity was recognised as being crucial to dealing with racial violence and discrimination within Northern Ireland.

The Public Forum was framed around the question ‘what is the Maangamizi?’ introducing a concept developed by scholar-activists of African descent into both public and academic discourse. The Maangamizi – the African holocaust of chattel, colonial, and neo-colonial enslavement perpetrated by Europeans and their prodigy – is a term central to many reparations and justice movements seeking to address the suffering of people of African descent. Guest speakers included reparationist, advocate and radio broadcaster Esther Stanford-Xosei, Dr Nathaniel Tobias Coleman, Dr Kwesi Tsri, Dr Christopher Stange (Hon. Consul for St Vincent and the Grenadines to Northern Ireland), Minister of Finance Mairtin O’Muilleor MLA, Michael McEachrane, and Elly Odhiambo.

The pre-Conference Workshop sought to settle the Maangamizi into the academic discourse through constructive dialogue between mainstream academics, scholar activists, and representatives from the Public Forum. Participants presented academic papers on issues relating to intergenerational justice and repair, with particular consideration of the place of marginalised communities and persons within their research. The importance of engaging with the voices of those people was consistently highlighted, and the ideas and language of activist communities was discussed and incorporated into the scholarship.

Rather than simply seeking to disseminate information to the public, this two day event promoted active engagement of both the public, activists, and academics, enriching the academic discourse through consideration of concepts developed by scholar-activists. The Forum also helped to engage a broader audience with issues associated with the past, whilst respecting for the voices of marginalised persons and their contributions. The event created a unique opportunity for the development of networks including academics, scholar-activists, activists, public officials and members of local communities.