UCL Institute of the Americas


Seminar: Making 'Race': the work of the slave-owners

17 February 2016, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

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Professor Catherine Hall (UCL) - Building on the work of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project this paper will explore the role of the slave-owners in making 'race'. The idea of 'the negro', of 'the slave' and of 'the white man' had to be constructed in the new world of the Atlantic. It was effected through a wide variety of practices - from the selling of African men and women to the making of laws, the discursive construction of racial types and the quotidian doings of the plantation. Drawing on a range of individual and familial stories this paper will argue that making 'race' was understood as vital work by the slave-owners of the British Caribbean.

Catherine Hall is Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London. Family Fortunes. Men and Women of the English middle class, 1780-1850, co-authored with Leonore Davidoff was published in 1978/2002. Since the late 1980s her work has focused on the relation between Britain and its empire. Civilising Subjects: metropole and colony in the English imagination was published in 2002 and Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain in 2012. At Home with the Empire. Metropolitan culture and the imperial world, co-edited with Sonya O Rose, was published in 2006. She is the Principal Investigator on the ESRC/AHRC project 'Legacies of British Slave-ownership' (www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs) which focuses on British slave-owners in the Caribbean between 1763-1833, exploring their property in people and land, their power and their legacies. Her most recent work is the collectively authored Legacies of British Slave-ownership: Colonial slavery and the formation of Victorian Britain (2014).