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Colonialism, Slavery, Trade, Reparations
Remedying the 'Past'?


Below is a selection of accounts on which the research project at STeR is based.

James Walvin, The Trader, The Owner, The Slave: Parallel Lives in the Age of Slavery (Random House UK 2008)

"There has been nothing like Atlantic Slavery. Its scope and the ways in which it has shaped the modern world as so far-reaching as to make it ungraspable...Walvin offers a new and original interpretation of the barbaric world of slavery and the historic end to the slave trade in April 1807...John Newton, author of 'Amazing Grace',...Thomas Thistlewood... slave owner... and Olauddah Equiano... a slave... speak out for the lives of millions who went unrecorded. All three men were contemporaries but what held them together, in its destructive gravitational pull, was the Atlantic slave system" (Vintage Books)

Arian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins (Allen Lane 2009)

"I was delighted...to hear of al your varied accomplishments and knowledge, and of your higher attributes in the sacred cause of humanity." 'Darwin, writing in 1859 to the naturalist/anti-slavery activist Richard Hill, the first gentleman 'of colour' in the Jamaican magistracy, assigned to adjudicate between former slave-holder and slave.' Desmond and Moore unearth Darwin's family correspondence, [his] manuscripts and rare works,...[to] back up their compelling claim that Darwin "traced all life to an ancient common ancestor". Leading apologists for slavery in Darwin's day argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, with whites superior. Creationists too believed that 'man' was superior to other species. Darwin abhorred such 'arrogance'; he declared it 'more humble & true' to see humans 'created from animals'. Darwin gave all the races - blacks and whites, animals and plants - a common origin and freed them from creationist shackles. Evolution meant emancipation."

T. Morrison, A Mercy: A Novel (Alfred A. Knopf 2008)

In the 1680's the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root.... A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment."

Moira Ferguson (ed), The History of Mary Prince A West Indian Slave: Related by Herself (introduction by Ziggi Alexander, first published 1831, Pandora 1987)

 "The book deals with the true experience of one individual's rebellion against physical and psychological degradation.  Its historical value lies chiefly in the detail it provides regarding the British-American slave system. As such it adds to our knowledge of Caribbean history, and is of special interest because here we have in print, for the first time that we know of in the British experience, the recollections of an African woman in slave times, something rare in historical study." (p.vii.).   " The idea of writing Mary Prince's history was first suggested by herself. She wished it to be done, she said, so that the good people in England might hear from a slave what a slave had felt and suffered." (p.45). Mary says in her opening chapter "Mrs Williams was a kind-hearted good woman, and she treated all her slaves well.  She had only one daughter, Miss Betsy, for whom I was purchased, and who was about my own age. I was made quite a pet of by Miss Betsy, and loved her very much. She used to lead me about by the hand, and call me her little nigger.  This was the happiest period of my life; for I was too young to understand my condition as a slave, and too thoughtless and full of spirits to look forward to the days of toil and sorrow." (p.47)

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