Wilberforce Institute Webinars, Spring 2021

Covid-19 may continue to restrict our opportunities to meet in person, but we hope you will join us in the coming weeks as we bring you a range of expert speakers with a wide variety of interests in our Spring season of webinar talks. Further details and confirmed titles will be available in due course, but for now we aim to introduce you to our experts and their interests. The talks will run from January until May.

Thursday January 28 2021, 4pm GMT

We begin on Thursday January 28 with Professor Sophie White, of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, who will talk about her latest book Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/University of North Carolina Press, 2019) https://uncpress.org/book/9781469654041/voices-of-the-enslaved/

Voices of the Enslaved draws on an exceptional set of source material about slavery in French America: court cases in which the enslaved themselves testified. It has won no fewer than seven awards to date, including the prestigious Frederick Douglass Award 2020 for the best book published in English on slavery, resistance or abolition.

Professor White is a historian of early America with an interdisciplinary focus on cultural encounters between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans, and a commitment to Atlantic and global research perspectives. She is also the author of Wild Frenchmen and Frenchified Indians: Material Culture and Race in Colonial Louisiana (Penn Press/McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2012), of over 10 articles and essays on slavery and race, is co-editor with Trevor Burnard of Hearing Enslaved Voices: African and Indian Slave Testimony in British and French America, 1700–1848 (Routledge, 2020), and is completing a digital humanities project on slave testimony as autobiography in collaboration with the Omohundro Institute.

To sign up for this free event please click on the link below:



Thursday February 11 2021, 4pm GMT

February sees our regular ‘What’s going on at the Wilberforce Institute?’ slot, when we showcase the work of some of our PhD students. This year we welcome back Craig Barlow, who successfully defended his thesis in April last year on the subject of ‘Child Criminal Exploitation: A new systematic model to improve professional assessment, investigation and intervention’. He will present a summary of his findings. Our three newest PhD students, Isabel Arce Zelada, Mavuto K. Banda and Jen Nghishitende, who make up the ‘Living with Modern Slavery’ cluster, will draw the evening to a close with a brief discussion of their projects so far.

To sign up for this free event please click on the link below:



Thursday March 18 2021, 4pm GMT

In March we welcome Klara Skrivankova, formerly of Anti-Slavery International, who is now working as Grants Manager for Trust for London.

Recognised as an expert on human trafficking and forced labour in the UK and internationally, she has been working in the field since 2000. Klara will share her reflections on the UK’s response to modern slavery over the past ten years and consider how close we are to eradicating it.

To sign up for this free event please click on the link below:



Thursday April 22 2021, 4pm BST

For our April session we welcome Dr Laura Sandy, Senior Lecturer in the History of Slavery and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool.

Dr Sandy’s work has involved archival research in every former slave state in the southern United States looking at slavery, plantation management, resistance, free people of colour, voluntary enslavement, the theft of enslaved people and the laws of slavery. Her most recent work investigates the illegal trafficking of the enslaved in North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Thursday May 20 2021, 4pm BST

In our final webinar of the Spring in May we welcome Dr Jelmer Vos, Lecturer in Global History at the University of Glasgow. His research interests focus on Angola, the Atlantic slave trade, and commodity history in Africa.

Dr Vos was part of the team that developed the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and he acted as consultant on the project to establish historical connections between ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank, and slavery in the Atlantic world.  His current book looks at the role of Angola in the global coffee economy, examining how Angolan robusta coffee became a global commodity, and how western demand for this product affected the lives of the Africans who produced it.

An Abolitionist’s Diaries: Rethinking William Wilberforce

Professor John Coffey

University of Leicester

Join us on Thursday 10 December 4-6PM GMT for our latest Wilberforce Institute Webinar. 

William Wilberforce kept diaries between 1779 and the year of his death, 1833. Altogether, they ran to over a million words, though some volumes are no longer extant – the total word count of the surviving diaries is c. 825,000 words. Most are held in Oxford  at the Bodleian Library, though the largest volume (c.150,000 words) is in Wilberforce House Museum. The abolitionist’s sons reproduced c.100,000 words from the diaries in the 1838 biography of their father, and historians have rarely ventured beyond these extracts to the original manuscripts, written in Wilberforce’s sometimes indecipherable hand. The Wilberforce Diaries Project is preparing the first scholarly edition for Oxford University Press, and in this seminar John Coffey will be introducing the manuscripts and asking how the diaries might reshape our understanding of Wilberforce and British abolitionism.

Professor Coffey’s research has focused on various facets of Anglophone Protestant culture. He has a particular expertise in seventeenth-century Puritanism and the English Revolution and has published widely in this area. His most recent book is Exodus and Liberation: Deliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr. (Oxford University Press, 2013).

To register for this free event, please click on the link below:


Excerpt from Wilberforce’s diary for 1788

The Yellow Demon of Fever

Professor Manuel Barcia

Chair of Global History

University of Leeds

Join us on Thursday 12 November 4-6PM GMT for our latest Wilberforce Institute Webinar. In this webinar Professor Manuel Barcia, Chair of Global History at the University of Leeds, will talk about the subject of his new book, The Yellow Demon of Fever: Fighting Disease in the Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Slave Trade. Professor Barcia’s expertise in slavery is wide ranging, from piracy to medical history, and he has published monographs on slave rebellion, the Great African Slave Revolt of 1825 and slave soldiers in the Atlantic World to great critical acclaim. The Yellow Demon of Fever, published earlier this year, is a pathbreaking history of how participants in the slave trade influenced the growth and dissemination of medical knowledge in the nineteenth century.

To register for this free event, please click on the link below:


Rethinking British Anti-Slavery

The Alderman Sydney Smith Annual Lecture

Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 15 October 2020, 4-6PM BST

Professor Catherine Hall

Emerita Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History

University College London

John Oldfield

Professor of Slavery and Emancipation

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

Join us on Thursday 15 October at 4pm for our annual Alderman Sydney Smith Lecture. This year Professor John Oldfield, former Director of the Wilberforce Institute, is joined by Professor Catherine Hall, Emerita Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London, and principal investigator of the Legacies of British Slave Ownership Project.  Professor Oldfield, a specialist in the history of abolition, will reconsider British Anti-Slavery, and Professor Hall will offer a response. As we draw ever nearer to 2033 and the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean, Professor Oldfield argues that there is a pressing need to re-evaluate British anti-slavery. In his lecture, he will map out some of the challenges facing scholars and practitioners, drawing particular attention to recent historiographical trends in the UK and the USA. ‘Distilling all of this work emphasises the need for a more “integrated” history of British anti-slavery that not only takes into account black agency but also pro-slavery ideology and culture, transatlanticism and the wider world outside Westminster.’

To register for this free event, please click on the link below:


What is freedom to you?

Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Tuesday 22 September 2020

On Tuesday 22 September between 16:00 and 18:00 BST, Cristina Talens, Head of Business Risk Assessment Services in the Wilberforce Institute, will be leading a major discussion on the nature of freedom today: ‘What is Freedom to You?’

This is not a discussion between academics. Instead it involves individuals who work at the forefront of identifying exploitative practices on the ground today – you will find their details below. Cristina Talens has assembled a stellar panel of experts from a diverse range of backgrounds in the areas of ethical trade and supply chains.  Our speakers will be talking about what freedom means to them, and about the one thing they believe would have the greatest impact in ensuring that people can be free from exploitation. If you would like to join us, please click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Cristina Talens – Head of Business Risk Assessment Service at the Wilberforce Institute. Cristina Talens has more than 20 years’ experience in ethical trading, sustainability and supply chains. She has worked with migrant workers on modern slavery issues in the UK, France and Italy. In 2000, she joined the United Nations (UN) Global Programme Against Trafficking and Smuggling of Human Beings, and today she regularly conducts social audit assignments and risk assessments on behalf of major UK supermarkets.

Alfonso Herias Garcia  – an Ethics and Human Rights specialist currently heading the Ethics team at G´s Fresh, one of Europe’s leading fresh produce companies. He has over 10 years’ experience in the fields of social sustainability, and is responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of G´s Fresh Human Rights Programme, covering over 10, 000 direct workers in places such as the UK, Spain, Eastern Europe, Senegal, and the United States. Alfonso has been an active member of the Food Network for Ethical Trade and the Spanish Ethical Trade Forums. He holds a degree in Political Science and a Masters in International Relations.

Sam Ludlow Taylor– Ethical Trade Manager at the John Lewis Partnership with a focus on the Waitrose brand, a role she has held for 2 years. Sam began her career working as a merchandiser at Homebase and then joined Debenhams where she moved into ethical trade and human rights about 12 years ago. Sam also spent time working for a UK based clothing agent and a soft drinks brand, looking at Tier 1 factories, raw material and commodities sourcing.

Rosey Hurst – founded Impactt in 1997 to make what works for workers work for business. She founded Sedex and launched the Benefits for Business and Workers Programme which links improving productivity with a better deal for workers. She is passionate about re-humanising the workplace, serves on the Ecovadis Technical Committee and is a member of the Responsible Investment Advisory Council at BMO Global Asset Management. 

David Camp – Founder and Chief Executive of allianceHR, a not for profit/profit with purpose consultancy. He delivers collaborative programmes to drive systemic human rights improvements in global supply chains. This includes Stronger Together, a multi-stakeholder collaborative initiative supporting organisations to tackle modern slavery; Fast Forward, a next generation supply chains labour standards audit and improvement programme; and the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit, a one-stop capacity-building online toolkit to support supply chains to embed responsible recruitment management systems. David is the Chief Executive of the Association of Labour Providers and received the 2018 Marsh Award for Outstanding Contribution to the fight against Modern Slavery.

Nick Kightley  – Strategic Lead for Food, Farming and Fisheries at the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). His overseas working experience includes 13 years in the rural Southern Philippines supporting small farmers and their communities and setting up his own rural enterprise there. He worked for 12 years at Traidcraft Exchange as Asia Programme Manager, promoting fair trade businesses, and for 8 years with the Waste and Resources Action Programme, working with SMEs and community based environmental sustainability enterprises. In his ETI role, Nick is able to influence the way business is done and industry functions on a global scale.

Steve Gibbons – Co-founder of Ergon with over 25 years’ experience in labour and human rights issues. He has provided consultancy for the International Labour Organisation, the World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission, London 2012, the ETI, the UK Department for International Development and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Steve has particular expertise in facilitating stakeholder dialogue and in devising and managing grievance and dispute resolution mechanisms in line with the UN Guiding Principles. He is an expert member of the Independent Complaints Mechanism of the sustainable investment company DEG, and FMO, the Dutch development bank. He is a UK-qualified lawyer, a regular conference speaker and the founder of the UK’s leading online training company for lawyers, CPDCast®.

Hannah Davis  – more than 15 years’ experience managing international development programmes, with a focus on sustainable and ethical supply chains and the empowerment of smallholder farmers. She has worked with cocoa, coffee, sugar and nut producer organisations across sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America to support improvements in agricultural practice, product quality, market access, governance and women’s participation. Since 2018, Hannah has worked for UK charity the Lorna Young Foundation, developing and promoting its Farmers’ Voice Radio initiative. This brings together smallholder farmers, agricultural experts and supply chain partners to share their knowledge, experience and expertise.

Pins Brown – Head of Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing at The Body Shop. Her working life has involved both suits and muddy boots and has focussed on improving labour conditions in supply chains especially for the least powerful. This has seen her involved in a wide variety of ventures from Mali to Kazakhstan, from agriculture to oil and gas and ASOS to Oxfam, working with large and small businesses, NGOs, trade unions and international organisations. She has also served on advisory panels on UK prison labour and for the Better Cotton Initiative. 

Register here for the webinar

Cristina Talens in the field

Wilberforce Institute Webinars at the Freedom Festival

Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September, 2020.

Whilst September marks the return to learning in British schools and universities, for the City of Hull it also heralds the beginning of a four-day festival that has grown to become one of the cultural highlights of the year. Since 2007 the Freedom Festival, beginning on Friday 4th September this year, provides the opportunity for artists and champions of freedom in all its forms to raise awareness about human rights. Whilst this year’s activities are centred firmly on virtual cultural gatherings, the programme provides something for everyone.

The Wilberforce Institute has played a key role in supporting the festival since its foundation during the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade in 2007. This year we are delighted to be contributing four ‘Freedom Talks’ that are part of their exciting programme. From the director of our Institute, to PhD students at the beginning of their academic journey, members of the Institute are looking forward to sharing the fruits of their research with audiences around the world. All four events are free to attend, delivered online, and don’t require any booking. In this blog we aim to provide you with a taster of these activities that we hope will encourage you to join us to find out more.

  • Black Peril

Throughout this summer, British streets, squares and bridges that were the scene of violent race riots in 1919, were transformed into dynamic stages, galleries and plinths to creatively explore this past. It’s easy to get the idea that mobs of ‘woke’ millennials are suddenly forcing Britons to confront ‘diversity’ for the first time. However, from Glasgow to Barry (via Hull), and indeed Chicago and New York the entire western world was engulfed in racial conflict over 100 years ago. The backdrop of today’s civil unrest, statues being torn down and serious soul searching across Britain, mean that there has rarely been a more opportune moment to explore ignored British history, radically challenging the way ‘British’, ‘White’ and ‘Working-Class’ identities have been constructed. As Soweto Kinch has argued, ‘1919 established and entrenched hierarchies of racism that have yet to be undone’.

Two times Mobo Award winning, Mercury nominated British Saxophonist Soweto Kinch will be talking to Dr Nicholas Evans from the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull about the Race Riots that took place in Hull in 1919-1920. This talk precedes the online performance of #BlackPeril2020 for five nights between Monday, 14th and Friday, 18th September 2020.

Watch at https://www.freedomfestival.co.uk/freedom-talks-black-peril-2020/ on Saturday, 5th September 2020, 1-2pm.

Join the live Q&A at @WilberforceHull or @FreedomFestHull on Saturday, 5th September 2020, 2-3pm using the hashtag #FreedomTalks.

  • Tacky’s Revolt

This webinar assembles a stellar cast of academics, all with specialist knowledge in the area, to discuss the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging. Chaired by Diana Paton, William Robertson Professor at the University of Edinburgh (author of The Cultural Politics of Obeah), five academics discuss their understanding of Tacky’s Rebellion.

The panellists include: Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University (author of Tacky’s Revolt); Edward Rugemer, Associate Professor of History at Yale University (author of Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance); Lissa Bollettino, Associate Professor of History at Framingham University (author of the forthcoming Slavery, War and Britain’s Eighteenth Century Atlantic Empire); Robert Hanserd, Assistant Professor of History at Columbia College, Chicago (author of Identity, Spirit and Freedom in the Atlantic World); and our very own Trevor Burnard, Wilberforce Professor in the Wilberforce Institute (author of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution).

Erica Charters, Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford (author of Disease, War and the Imperial State), will offer a final commentary.

Watch at https://www.freedomfestival.co.uk/freedom-talks-tackys-revolt/ on Saturday, 5th September 2020, 3-5pm.

Join the live Q&A at @WilberforceHull or @FreedomFestHull on Saturday, 5th September 2020, 5-6pm using the hashtag #FreedomTalks.

  • Falling through the Net

Around the world it is the most vulnerable who are often the victims of coerced labour. Such bondage is nothing new, and yet explorations of why children are especially at risk from exploitation has not received as much scholarly attention as other aspects of slavery studies.

Three members of the ‘Falling through the Net’ research cluster at the Institute, James Baker, Jasmine Holding Brown and Saphia Fleury will each talk about their individual projects in this webinar. James’ focus is on how heritage has been utilised to preserve and represent the experience of forced child emigration to Australia. Jasmine is looking at child rescue in Canada – the development of social movements aimed at ‘rescuing’ children, the agencies involved and the ideologies underpinning their practices. Saphia’s research concerns migration in the context of environmental change, particularly climate change.

Watch at https://www.freedomfestival.co.uk/freedom-talks-falling-through-the-net/ on Sunday, 6th September 2020, 1-2pm.

Join the live Q&A at @WilberforceHull or @FreedomFestHull on Sunday, 6th September 2020, 2-3pm using the hashtag #FreedomTalks.

  • Modern slavery in Humberside

The Humber Modern Slavery Partnership is a strategic partnership of front line organisations across the Humberside Police area dedicated to tackling all forms of modern slavery. Over 60 agencies have joined together to fight slavery and trafficking, and their Coordinator Andrew Smith and Vice Chair Alicia Kidd explain how forms of modern slavery are found in this region.

In this webinar, they discuss the local picture of modern slavery, looking at who the victims are and what they experience, how they become exploited, how they manage to leave the situation, what happens to them once they are out of exploitation and what the practitioner response looks like. They also consider the impact of Covid-19 and how this has changed the way that exploiters operate.

Watch at https://www.freedomfestival.co.uk/freedom-talks-modern-slavery-in-humberside/ on Sunday, 6th September 2020, 4-5pm.

Join the live Q&A at @WilberforceHull or @FreedomFestHull on Sunday, 6th September 2020, 5-6-pm using the hashtag #FreedomTalks.

Image by kind permission of Soweto Kinch.

Wilberforce Institute Event: Tacky’s Revolt

On Thursday 23 July, from 17.00-19.00 BST, the Wilberforce Institute will host a webinar on the subject of Tacky’s Revolt.

Tacky’s Revolt, or the Slave Rebellions in Jamaica, 1760-61, was the largest and most significant revolt in eighteenth-century British America and the most important revolt undertaken by enslaved people in the Caribbean before the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. It was a series of attacks made by enslaved people, many of whom were African and usually thought to have been Coromantee people from the Gold Coast of West Africa, in several parts of Jamaica. Jamaica at that time was Britain’s most valuable tropical colony and one in which the population was divided starkly between a small minority of privileged and often very wealthy whites and a large majority of harshly treated enslaved people of African descent. The rebels who joined in the revolts killed many whites, destroyed much plantation property and showed they were a formidable internal foe of British imperial rule. They very nearly succeeded in overturning white rule on the island. The rebellions were put down only with maximum effort and through the combined actions of British regulars, Jamaican Maroons (autonomous communities of people of African heritage) and the white militia. The imperial state’s retribution against rebels was ferocious, reflecting the terror a population of white Jamaicans experienced about how close they and their island society had come to disaster.

This webinar will involve a stellar cast of invited academics, all with specialist knowledge in this area. Diana Paton, William Robertson Professor at the University of Edinburgh (author of The Cultural Politics of Obeah)will chair the session, which will see five academics discussing their understanding of the revolt. Our panellists are as follows: Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University (author of Tacky’s Revolt); Edward Rugemer, Associate Professor of History at Yale University (author of Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance); Lissa Bollettino, Associate Professor of History at Framingham State University (author of the forthcoming Slavery, War and Britain’s Eighteenth Century Atlantic Empire);  Robert Hanserd, Assistant Professor of History at Columbia College, Chicago (author of Identity, Spirit and Freedom in the Atlantic World); and our very own Trevor Burnard, Wilberforce Professor in the Wilberforce Institute (author of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution). Erica Charters, Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford (author of Disease, War and the Imperial State), will offer a final commentary, before we open the floor for questions.

The aim is for each of the panellists to talk for a maximum of 10 minutes, beginning with a short discussion of their sources and the problems they present, before moving on to reveal the causes of the rebellion. The aim then is to give everyone present an opportunity to think about the different ways in which an event as important as Tacky’s Revolt can be interpreted when historians have only some of the sources they would like at hand.

This webinar has now taken place. If you would like to see a recording of the event, please click on the link below. This will take you to a library of all our recorded webinars.