News and Events

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

Heritage Plaque to Ida B. Wells

On the 12 February, join ASUP and Jak Beula (Nubian Jak Heritage Organisation) to honour African American activist Ida B. Wells with a heritage plaque in Birmingham.

Wells was a community activist who fought against the ugly legacies of American slavery, including lynching, racism and segregation. She fought for women’s suffrage, and wrote several books and pamphlets denouncing white domestic terrorism and the murder of innocent black men, women and children in the U.S. She visited Britain in 1893 and 1894 to campaign against lynching to transatlantic audiences.

ASUP has part funded the heritage plaque, which will be unveiled on the afternoon of the 12 February. The Nubian Jak Heritage Organisation has assembled an impressive array of events and talks, including contributions from local school children, the Birmingham Mayor, a representative of the U.S. Embassy, and local community activists.

Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray (ASUP) will also be delivering a lecture on Wells’ travels to Britain on 5 February at MAC Birmingham. The event is free, but please register at

The Crossing: An Immersive Screening

On Thursday 31st January at BACKLIT Art Gallery, please join The Rights Lab and the Antislavery Usable Past for an immersive and interactive screening of Dr. Shreepali Patel’s The Crossing, complete with bluetooth headphones.

The Crossing explores the story of a young girl who is manipulated through the “lover-boy technique”, and is subsequently trafficked for sex across Europe. Dr. Patel’s aim was to begin the film with the “concept of ‘hope’ and its gradual unfurling reality into an exploitation of trust to perpetuate a $150 billion world trade in her 21 million people, a third of which are children.” Through Dr. Patel’s extensive work with survivors, one described the experience as though the “body [was] separated from the soul.”

After the screening of the film (15 minutes), there will be a discussion with a panel of experts from the Rights Lab, University of Nottingham, home to the world’s leading modern slavery experts. 

The event will be held at BACKLIT Art Gallery, housed in a building owned by nineteenth-century abolitionist Samuel Morley. The event is free, but please register- 

This event is sponsored by The Rights Lab and the AHRC-Funded Antislavery Usable Past Grant. Based at the University of Nottingham, the RL is the world’s largest and leading group of modern slavery researchers.

Announcement of a special issue of the Journal of Modern Slavery by Antislavery Early Research Association

special edition image

Edited by Hannah Jeffery, Rebecca Nelson, and Katarina Schwarz
Foreword by Professors Jean Allain and Kevin Bales

SlaveFree Today and the Journal of Modern Slavery announced at the end of 2018 the publication of a special edition produced in collaboration with the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham and the Antislavery Early Research Association (Antislavery ERA), a network supported by the Rights Lab’s AHRC-funded Antislavery Usable Past grant project.

With the growing visibility of the contemporary antislavery movement on the global stage,and the rising demand for new and revolutionary research about human exploitation, emergent scholarship in the field is becoming increasingly vital.

This Special Issue transcends disciplinary boundaries, fuels collaboration, and brings the evolving research of early career scholars to light. Featuring the work of nineteen academics in nine papers, it incorporates fields of scholarship such as Law, American Studies, History, Geography, Social Science, and Business and gives voice to a new wave of antislavery research that connects past, present, and future. It highlights the important role of research networks at all levels of scholarship.

It covers a wide range of topics, including contemporary slavery through an historic lens; the prohibition of labor exploitation in Italy, Spain, and the UK; strategic litigation to combat modern slavery; immigration status decisions of post-NRM victims of human trafficking; the availability of eligible benefits and impact on victims of trafficking; procedural justice, victimcentricity, and the right to remedy for survivors; antislavery methods of visual protest from 1845 to Black Power; the first survey of children’s literature on modern slavery; analysing slavery through satellite technology; and collaborating to identify, recover and support victims of modern slavery.

This Special Issue centers survivor voices, not only in content, but by engaging a
survivor-scholar in the reviewing process of each article; the first ever journal issue to do so.



African American Activist Walking Tour – December 6th 2018 – 6.00pm – London

Frederick Douglass

African American Activist Walking Tour by Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, University of Nottingham

Thu 6 December 2018 – 18:00 – 19:30 GMT

Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street. London, WC2B 5AZ



“It is my mission to give to the world the black people’s side of the story.”

So Ida B. Wells said to a Leeds audience in 1893. In this incredible and iconic statement, Wells represented the sentiment of hundreds of African Americans who travelled to Britain to campaign against slavery, racism and lynching from the 1830s to the late 1890s. Many individuals sought temporary reprieve from American soil, others permanent; some raised money to free themselves or enslaved family members, and others sought work with varying degrees of success. Black men and women lectured in large cities and tiny fishing villages, wrote and published narratives, stayed with influential reformers and ensured millions of words were written about them in the newspapers.

Whatever their reasons for visiting, black activists exhibited whips and chains (and sometimes even their scars); read runaway slave advertisements from southern newspapers; created visual Panoramas, and used fiery rhetoric to tell their stories. It is therefore unsurprising that British newspaper editors littered their reports with accounts of formerly enslaved individuals as well as their speeches, adverts for their narratives, and their letters to editors. From the John O’Groat Journal to the Royal Cornwall Gazette, Victorian Britons followed the movements of black Americans from the 1830s until decades after American slavery had ended, often cramming into tiny churches or town halls to curb an insatiable appetite for details about life in slavery.

Join me on a walking tour that will take you to six sites where black activists made an important impact on the central London landscape, including:

– Freemason’s Hall, where numerous activists such as Frederick Douglass and Josiah Henson lectured about slavery

– Somerset House, where Martin Delany made his famous declaration in front of royalty, “I am a MAN!”

– Holborn Town Hall, where Ida B. Wells lectured on lynching and female suffrage.

Meet on the steps at Freemason’s Hall for a 6pm start. The walk is free, and will last roughly an hour and a half. We won’t be walking more than 1.5 miles max but please wear comfortable shoes!

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to email the leader of the tour, Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, at

Digital Collections at The Wilberforce Institute – Monday 3 December

Monday, 3 December 2018 from 16:30-18:00

Wilberforce Institute, 27 High Street, HU1 1NE Kingston upon Hull



An event is being held at the Wiberforce Institute in Hull to launch two of our digital projects.

‘Remembering 1807’, put together by Dr Mary Wills, is an online archive that brings together materials from commemoration events that took place during 2007, the year of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade.

‘Legacies on Display: Slavery in Museums’ has been built by one of our PhD students, Rebecca Nelson. This collection showcases museums around the world that engage with and interpret the subject of slavery.

For further information please contact Rebecca Nelson

Exhibition: ‘Slavery, culture & collecting’ – Museum of London Docklands – Sept 18 – Sept 19

Antislavery Usable Past has collaborated with Museum of London Docklands to curate the latest display in the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery that highlights the connection to slavery of some of Britain’s oldest cultural organisations.  Slavery, culture & collecting follows slave owner and art collector George Hibbert, a prominent member of a large subsection of British society which derived its wealth directly from the slave economy. These figures were often active philanthropists, and are commemorated in memorials for their associations with charitable causes, while their connections to slavery are invisible even today.

Slavery Culture and Collecting


Hibbert was instrumental in building the West India Docks which now house the Museum of London Docklands. This connection positions the museum as an important place to think about the relationship between slavery and cultural heritage.

The wealth generated by slavery was used to create cultural institutions such as museums, universities, art galleries and charities. Advocates of slavery would then use culture in their arguments for the continuing use of enslaved labour, on the grounds that Africans needed the “civilising influence” of Europe.

The display contains a short film featuring Dr Katie Donington. Further information can be found on the museum website Slavery, culture and collecting, Museum of London

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Early Career Research event – Scholarship with Survivors Workshop – Call for participants – Deadline 17 September 2018

Antislavery Early Research Association


The Antislavery Early Research Association is running the following event:

Scholarship with Survivors Workshop – A Day of Conversation between Early Career Researchers and Survivors

University of Nottingham, UK

Saturday 20 October 2018

The Scholarship with Survivors Workshop aims to provide a platform for open dialogue between early career researchers and survivors of contemporary forms of slavery. Throughout the day, we will consider what diverse areas of research have to offer to survivors, how survivors’ perspectives can (and should) influence research, and the ways in which scholars and survivors can work together to produce and develop knowledge. By creating an informal environment in which knowledge is exchanged freely and equally, we seek to create an approach that abolishes the barrier between institution academia and survivor communities. The workshop will feature a presentation, panel session and Q&A with survivors, as well as thematic, round table discussions of selected focus areas, providing an opportunity for researchers to engage with survivors and one another.

A call for participants in any field or discipline researching issues relating to slavery, antislavery, and human trafficking – both modern and historic has been issued. For further information please see the full call document – Scholarship with Survivors Workshop Call for Participants

The organisers are also reaching out to survivors of slavery and human trafficking to join us in Nottingham, to participate in the workshop and become part of a growing network of early career researchers working in the area. You are welcome to attend as a general participant or as a presenter on the survivor panel. As a participant, you will not be required to tell everyone that you are a survivor of slavery. If you are interested please see here for further information – Call for Survivor Participants – 2018


Welcome to Shamere McKenzie, CEO Sun Gate Foundation

The Antislavery Usable Past is delighted to welcome Shamere McKenzie, CEO Sun Gate Foundation, as an Advisory Board Member to the project.



Shamere is herself a survivor of modern slavery and now uses her past adversity to raise awareness of human trafficking by speaking at various universities, conferences, community events and with government officials around the world. She partners with organisations by empowering survivors and youth within their programs, trains various professionals on how to identify and respond to human trafficking and have written and emergency shelter program for adult survivors of human trafficking. Her story has been featured in several books including a college text book focused on social justice. In addition, her story has been featured on various television and radio programs, in magazines and newspapers, on several blogs and she has received numerous awards for her work.

The Sun Gate Foundation is an anti-trafficking organisation that provides educational opportunities for survivors of human trafficking. It is Shamere’s desire that the Sun Gate Foundation will empower survivors to pick up their broken pieces and go confidently after their dreams.