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Legacies of European Slave-ownership workshop
The workshop held at the Department of History, UCL on 17th September 2012 with funding received from the UCL European Institute, aimed at exploring slave-ownership through a European lens.
Beginning with a presentation of the LBS project and its historiographical context, scholars of other European empires then surveyed the history and historiography of slave-ownership in their own fields. Each contribution was followed by a group discussion.
Identifying Slave-Ownership in European Cities. This session brought together new research on the history and legacy of Transatlantic slavery with a focus on networks, families and firms working in Europe. The discussion centered on the terminology of slave-ownership, from older concepts like 'absentee planters' to new proposals for a directer local, regional and urban European approach of the dynamics of slavery 'at home'. New economic, social and cultural historical aspects of enslavement, slave trade, investment, shareholding, mapping, cartography, transnational family dynamics and legacies were discussed by experts from various West-European nations.
The session's aim was to create a broader European network for this study, connected with existing research projects at University College London (Legacy of British Slave-Ownership), CNRS (Eurescl) in Paris and the project Mapping the History and Legacy of Slavery (VU University Amsterdam). Prof Catherine Hall, University College London (History): Cultural Historical analysis of British Slave Owners; Dr Nick Draper, University College London (History): Economic Historical Analysis of London Slave Owners; Dr Keith McClelland, University College London (History): Presenting a Database of British Slave-Owners; Rachel Lang, MA, University College London (History): Mapping British Slave Ownership; Dr. Myriam Cottias, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris (History), The Memorial Culture of Slavery in Cities in France; Prof Martin Rodrigo y Alharilla, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (History), The Spanish Merchant Class and the Slave Trade; Prof Eve Rosenhaft, University of Liverpool (History):Investment, profit and ownership in the German lands; Dienke Hondius, VU University Amsterdam, History (coördinator).
The session was chaired by Dr Dienke Hondius.
- Professor Catherine Hall (LBS project, UCL)
- Dr Nick Draper (LBS project, UCL)
- Keith McClelland (LBS project, UCL)
- Kate Donington (LBS project, UCL)
- Rachel Lang (LBS project, UCL)
- Dr Myriam Cottias (Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [CNRS], Paris)
- Dr Dienke Hondius (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)
- Professor Martin Rodrigo y Alharilla (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
- Professor Eve Rosenhaft (University of Liverpool)
- Dr Zoe Laidlaw (Royal Holloway University, London)
- Sean Creighton (Independent Researcher)
- Kathy Chater (Independent Researcher)
- Dr Christer Petley (University of Southampton)
- Dr Sheryllynne Haggerty (University of Nottingham)
- Dr Britta Schilling (University of Cambridge)
- Dr Axel Korner (UCL)
The workshop addressed three main issues:
- What was the history of slave-ownership in different European imperial contexts? And how have these histories been situated within national and public histories of slavery and the slave-trade? How do the histories and historiographies of slave-ownership differ across European contexts? How do they converge?
- What sources are available for researching slave-ownership?
- What possibilities are there for future collaboration? Would it be worthwhile to establish a formal or informal European network on slave-ownership?
Of particular interest was the way in which the history of slave-ownership in the Spanish empire diverged from those of Britain, France and the Netherlands, with a later abolition of the slave trade in Cuba in 1862 as opposed to 1807 and 1818. Spanish slave-ownership was dominated by people resident in the colonies as opposed to wider European slave-ownership where people often returned to their countries of origin having made their fortunes from agriculture and trade in the colonies.
It was striking how the study of slave-ownership has been influenced by political situations in the European countries themselves, with Afro-Caribbean migration playing an important part in the historiography of slave-ownership, again with the notable exception of Spain.
The trans-national aspects of slave-ownership among different European countries have been neglected in the study of slavery and discussions about specific slave-owners brought out opportunities for beginning to remedy this situation.
Participants noted several online databases which provide sources for the study of slave-ownership:
- Workpackages at the EURESCL project
- The plantation owners of Saint Domingue and the Royal Indemnity Report
- The Friends of the Nationaal Archief, Netherlands (records for Suriname)
- The Slave-owners of Bloomsbury map
- The Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership which will be available from late 2012
- Slaveneigenaren in Amsterdam in 1863
Participants have agreed to present a panel entitled Identifying Slave-Ownership in European Cities: Tracing the Presence and Legacy of Trans-Atlantic Slavery 'at Home' in Europe at the 20th International Conference of Europeanists at Amsterdam University, June 25-27, 2013.
For information on the conference, please visit:
Council for European Studies