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Dr Ryan Hanley


Ryan Hanley joined UCL as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in History in September 2017. He was Salveson Junior Fellow (History) at New College Oxford between 2014 and 2017. He completed his doctorate at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in 2015.

Ryan is interested in the histories of race and slavery, and eighteenth and nineteenth-century black British history. His current project explores the origins of racial populism in Britain, between 1787 and 1838. Specifically, it examines the relationship between debates over slavery and labour reform and the spread of racial thought during this period. This work falls into three main strands: the development and popularisation of racial science and pseudo-science in print culture specifically produced for working-class readerships; the role of working-class women in both sides of the slavery debate; and the activities and representations of black working-class radicals in Britain.

Previously, Ryan has explored the lives and works of black intellectuals in eighteenth-and ninteenth-century Britain, within and beyond the antislavery movements. His first monograph, Black Writing in Britain, 1770-1830, examines the means by which black authors first composed, published, and marketed their texts, and how, when, where, and why these were subsequently bought and read in Britain. It challenges the prevailing view of black authors as concerned solely with abolitionism or race, enabling a revaluation of their various contributions to a broad range of British social, religious, and political concerns.

Major publications

  • Katie Donington, Ryan Hanley and Jessica Moody (eds), Britain's History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery: Local Nuances of a 'National Sin' (Liverpool University Press, 2016)
  • 'Slavery and the Birth of Working-Class Racism in England, 1814-1833', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (2016)
  • 'Calvinism, Proslavery and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw', Slavery and Abolition (2015), Winner of the Royal Historical Society Alexander Prize
  • Black Writing in Britain, 1770-1830 [in preparation]

For a full list of publications, see Ryan's Iris profile.