Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Gendering Racial Capitalism: British Women Investors in Transatlantic Slavery

03 May 2023, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

Gendering Racial Capitalism

The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery is pleased to announce this public lecture by Dr Lila O’Leary Chambers, Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and former Research Fellow on the Register of British Slave-Traders Project at UCL.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery


IAS Common Ground
G11, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
UCL, Gower Street, London
United Kingdom


This event has been rescheduled due to planned industrial action on the original date in February.

Between 1660 and 1754, more than 1,000 British women saw a financial opportunity in trafficking enslaved African people across the Atlantic, through both private venture, or most commonly, through corporate entities like the Royal African and South Sea Companies. This paper will offer an overview of the preliminary biographical and quantitative analysis conducted on these women through the AHRC-funded Register of British Slave-Traders Database Project. Such financial entanglements allowed them to acquire or maintain land, exert financial control over their subordinates, donate to charitable initiatives, accrue material culture, and support their heirs. Even when such investments did not prove profitable, the connections forged from participating in these commercial institutions advanced the careers of male family members, or offered women themselves greater economic agency at the expense of stripping it from those held in bondage. Drawing on the insights of Black feminist scholarship and work on women in the so-called ‘Financial Revolution’, this talk illuminates how this cohort of women sought to ensure the social, political, and material conditions of themselves and their kin through the systematic rending of the kin networks of the African women, children, and men trafficked across the Atlantic. By tracing the movement of British women’s capital into and out of the trade in enslaved people, this paper tangibly connects the financial, social, and intimate worlds of white women in Britain to the growth and elaboration of racial capitalism in the Atlantic world.

Attendance is free and open to all, but pre-registration is required on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/514076124527 

For more information, or to be added to the CSLBS mailing list, please contact lbs@ucl.ac.uk

About the Speaker

Lila O’Leary Chambers

Historian of race, slavery, and commodification in the early modern Atlantic world

Currently a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, she received her PhD from NYU in 2021, and worked as a Research Fellow on the Register of British Slave-Traders Project at UCL, through which she conducted the work for this talk. In addition to her research on British women’s financial entanglement with the transatlantic trade in enslaved African people, she is writing a book entitled Liquid Capital: Alcohol and the Rise of Slavery in the British Atlantic, 1588-1739.

More about Lila O’Leary Chambers