We continue to hold online events at the moment, but hope to welcome you back to the Wilberforce Institute as soon as restrictions are lifted. You will find details below. Links to recordings for those that have already taken place, where available, are provided with the webinar information.
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 20 May 2021, 4pm – 6pm BST
Dr Jelmer Vos
Lecturer in Global History
University of Glasgow
We hope you will join us for the last of our Wilberforce Institute Webinars for this academic year. On Thursday 20 May, at 4pm (BST), Dr Jelmer Vos of the University of Glasgow will share with us some of his latest research on the history of forced labour in Angola.
The first coffee estates in Angola using enslaved workers emerged in the 1830s. African smallholders long remained the dominant producers of coffee in this Portuguese colony, but in the 1930s and especially after World War Two settler production based on a system of forced wage labour expanded dramatically, making Angola one of the largest producers of robusta coffee in the world. Forced labour became a prominent feature of colonial life in Angola, and eyewitnesses and historians have long debated the continuities between this form of labour coercion and proto-colonial slavery.
This paper intervenes in this literature with three propositions. First, Angola differed from other colonial coffee economies where foreign planters played a dominant role (Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Kenya) as the Portuguese government, despite fierce international pressures, was unwilling to withdraw their support from the settler economy. Second, forced labour resembled ‘modern slavery’ as described by Kevin Bales, in the sense that the system treated African farm labour as ‘disposable’. Third, despite this, its roots lay not so much in proto-colonial slavery, but rather in the equally old system of compulsory porterage.
To sign up for this event please click on the link below:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Wilberforce Institute, October 11, 2021
PhD candidate, Falling Through the Net PhD Cluster
Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull
Slavery is often considered to be a problem of the past, while climate change is seen as a threat to our future. Yet the two issues present a real threat in the here and now, and often interact with exploitative and dangerous consequences.
Climate change poses an immediate and existential threat to many of the most marginalised communities on the planet. All over the world, the impacts of this global emergency are being felt right now in the form of both sudden-onset disasters and slow-onset events. When combined with ongoing deforestation, pollution and resource scarcity, the impacts of these occurrences, which are making livelihoods ever more precarious for millions of people in the poorest countries, lead to increased levels of migration and displacement.
This situation has clear implications for development and human rights. In the words of former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston, climate change is ‘likely to challenge or undermine the enjoyment of almost every human right in the international bill of rights’. Among the human rights issues that emerge most strongly are those linked to exploitation such as forced and unfree labour, human trafficking and slavery.
Meanwhile, research demonstrates that slavery in industries such as mining, fishing, brick-making and timber production can raise greenhouse gas emissions and drive other forms of environmental degradation. It has even been suggested that the climate crisis could be averted completely by putting an end to contemporary slavery.
Yet to date, the relationship between climate change and contemporary slavery has received relatively little attention in the policy, advocacy and academic fields. Furthermore, mainstream approaches to both issues have traditionally favoured technocratic or legalistic approaches that place these issues within ‘siloes’, disconnected from their political, social and economic contexts.
On Monday 11 October 2021, the Wilberforce Institute with support from Anti-Slavery International will host a one-day inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral workshop to break down these siloes and explore the relationship between these twin ills. Submissions are welcome from all sectors, including academics, activists, NGO practitioners, policy makers, journalists, PhD students, and others.
We welcome proposals relating to all aspects of these complex and wide-ranging issues, including intersecting or intervening themes such as: migration and displacement; conflict and insecurity; land, livelihoods and natural resources; ethnicity, gender and race; colonial and neo-colonial legacies.
We are interested in submissions that contribute to breaking new conceptual, methodological, and empirical ground in this topic area, and in particular those that advance novel recommendations for tackling these issues at the levels of policy and practice.
Abstracts for proposed papers or presentations (200-300 words) should be sent with a short bio to Dr Chris O’Connell, Dublin City University at email@example.com and Saphia Fleury, Wilberforce Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submission is 30 June 2021. We aim to inform successful candidates by late August. There is no fee for attendance or participation in this event.
For any enquiries, please contact Chris O’Connell or Saphia Fleury.
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 22 April 2021, 4pm – 6pm BST
Dr Laura Sandy
Senior Lecturer in the History of Slavery
Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, University of Liverpool
The practice of slave stealing spans the history of American slavery. The theft of human property was clearly a complicated crime and those involved in this ‘underground slave trade’ came from a variety of backgrounds and had an array of motives. By uncovering these histories and integrating them into the broader narrative of slavery, Dr Sandy provides fascinating new insights into the ‘peculiar institution’ and its evolution over time and space. More broadly, this research enhances our understanding of the multifaceted, internal and external, challenges to slavery in the nineteenth century and leading up to the Civil War. Indeed, it argues that slave stealers shaped antebellum southern political thought and made a significant contribution to the rising sense of insecurity over the future of the institution, which led to the growth of sectionalism and the outbreak of war.
To sign up for this free event please click on the link below:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 18 March 2021, 4pm GMT
Grants Manager for Trust for London
Formerly with Anti-Slavery International, Klara is 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’s talk, entitled, ‘On the road to eradication: Reflections on a decade of anti-slavery efforts in the UK’, will consider how the UK’s response to modern slavery has changed over the past ten years both from a broader international perspective and from the impact on communities and people’s everyday lives around the country. International developments in law and policy and also global events such as climate change will be discussed alongside Brexit, changes in immigration regulations and the economic impact of Covid-19.
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-S17bq7Z-U
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 11 February 2021, 4pm GMT
Craig Barlow, Isabel Arce Zelada, Mavuto K. Banda and Jen Nghishitende
Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull
On February 11 at 4pm GMT we hold our regular ‘What’s going on at the Wilberforce Institute?’ slot, this year by webinar, when we showcase the work of our PhD students. This year we welcome back Craig Barlow, now with his doctorate completed: he successfully defended his thesis in April last year. Craig will talk on ‘Criminal Exploitation and the Statutory Defence: Putting Theory into Practice’. Since he completed his thesis, entitled ‘Child Criminal Exploitation: A New Systemic Model to Improve Professional Assessment, Investigation and Intervention’, the model he devised has been applied to case analysis and the development of expert evidence in both the criminal and family justice systems, in relation to modern slavery, and in the wider context of the general safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. His presentation will describe and explain this approach in the context of trafficking for criminal exploitation and the statutory defence for victims of criminal exploitation under Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Our three newest PhD students, Isabel Arce Zelada, Mavuto K. Banda and Jen Nghishitende, who make up the ‘Living with Modern Slavery’ cluster, will follow, giving us insights into their research so far. All three joined us in Autumn last year, despite experiencing a number of problems as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. They have done incredibly well in difficult circumstances and have now begun to put their own stamp on their projects.
Isabel will talk first about ‘Asylum as Violence in UK Courts’.
Her project looks at the process of asylum within the liminal state of being outside of the nation-state as a person seeking asylum. By acknowledging that we live under a grand narrative of human rights that are tied to nations the liminal space of leaving a nation-state to seek refuge somewhere else exposes a state of being in which no nation-state is kept responsible for the enforcement of an individual’s human rights. How does this affect subjectification?
The asylum process is heavily reliant on the narrative of the person seeking asylum, however, it also scrutinises the narrative from the initial interview and throughout the court hearing. Whether the person is accepted as a refugee by the end of the process or not they will have experienced:
- being extracted from their previous nation to refer to them as an individual in the eyes of the court;
- being subjectified into categories already existing in the asylum narrative; and
- having their identity questioned by national or personal notions of what that identity should be.
Isabel is interested in the reality of going through a process of subjectification in which identities are disputed and asked to be proven throughout that process. And what are the experiences of those going through a process in which the subjectification into an asylum seeker and a refugee supersedes the personal subjectification of the person seeking asylum?
Jen will talk next about her project, which investigates a related issue: ‘The Dignity and Rights of Women and Children Subjected to Modern Slavery in the United Kingdom’.
In recent years, the spotlight has been placed on the accounts of survivors of modern slavery – their tales of slavery and their eventual escape or rescue. As such, scant attention has been placed on what happens after slavery: how survivors go on with their lives and how they reintegrate into society with their rights and dignity intact. Jen’s research will investigate life after modern slavery in the United Kingdom, specifically focusing on women and children and how they attempt to move on with their lives after experiencing the ordeal of modern slavery, including the support available to them to achieve ‘normal’ lives.
Finally, Mavuto’s project comes at modern slavery from the opposite perspective, investigating how restrictions on modern slavery can work to make children more vulnerable to exploitation. His project is entitled ‘Evaluating child labour bans in Malawi’s agriculture’.
The United Nations and International Labour Organisation are promoting children’s rights and fighting against all forms of child labour around the globe through legal frameworks. Being one of the signatories to these greements, the Malawi Government has put in place policies and legal instruments to operationalise their international obligations on children’s rights and committed itself to combat child labour. This study aims at exploring the impact of banning under-18 year olds from working in the commercial tea and tobacco estates in Malawi on youth and their families’ livelihoods.
This event has now taken place.
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 28 January 2021, 4-6pm GMT
Professor Sophie White
Department of American Studies
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Join us on Thursday 28 January 4-6PM GMT for our latest Wilberforce Institute Webinar. In this webinar Sophie White, Professor of American Studies, Concurrent Professor in the Departments of Africana Studies, History, and Gender Studies, and Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, 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.
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En9ffMLBmqQ&t=543s
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 10 December 2020, 4-6PM GMT
Professor John Coffey
University of Leicester
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).
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRR1NURrYBY&t=922s
Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 12 November 2020, 4-6PM GMT
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.
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G8qpVxNUzI
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
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.’
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i_4PI0_Gyk&t=16s
Thursday September 10, 2020
4PM to 6PM BST
At this webinar hosted by the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute, Dr. Richard Huzzey, Reader in Modern British History from Durham University, will chair a discussion about ethical capitalism in the age of abolition.
Dr. Bronwen Everill, the Class of 1973 Lecturer in History and a fellow of Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, will be talking about her new book, Not Made By Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition, followed by a reply from Professor John Oldfield, Professor of History at the University of Hull and former Director of the Wilberforce Institute, and Professor Suzanne Schwarz, Professor of History at the University of Worcester.
Bronwen’s book looks at how some merchants in Britain, America, and West Africa sought to use consumer power to challenge Atlantic slavery. In the process, these businesses encountered a variety of ethical dilemmas that stemmed from the cross-cultural nature of trade with West Africa, ranging from deciding what kinds of goods could be ethical, to how to detect fraud in ethical trade, to how to pay for goods ethically, to how to use government influence to shape ethical commerce policies. Firms like Macaulay & Babington and Brown & Ives promoted an influential middlebrow economic philosophy that ultimately advocated for a global division of land and labour that would be of most benefit to the ethical consumers, rather than producers. The book places the politics of antislavery firmly in the history of capitalism by linking commercial ethical decisions to larger developments in the political economy of imperialism and nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century.
Please register for Wilberforce Institute Webinar – Not Made By Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition on Sep 10, 2020 4:00 PM BST at:
This event has now taken place. To view a recording of the webinar please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVJXelXNFcE
On Thursday 23 July 5-7pm, the Wilberforce Institute will host a round table of distinguished international experts on the causes and consequences of Tacky’s Revolt from 1760 in Jamaica.
This revolt was the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth century British empire and one of the most important slave revolts in history. It played an important role in galvanising opposition to slavery in Britain.
The panel will include:
Professor Vincent Brown (Harvard University),
Associate Professor Edward Rugemer (Yale University),
Associate Professor Lissa Bollettino (Framingham State University),
Assistant Professor Robert Hanserd (Columbia College Chicago),