UCL News


Spotlight on Catherine Hall

21 February 2013

This week the spotlight is on Professor Catherine Hall, UCL History, who is the Principal Investigator on the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership project.

Catherine Hall

What is your role and what does it involve?

I teach in the History department but I am also the Principal Investigator on the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership project. This is a collaborative project which has been running for the last three years (funded by the ESRC) and which is now starting on its second three-year phase (funded by the ESRC & AHRC). We are investigating the significance of British slave-owners to the formation of modern Britain. Slavery has been eclipsed in British history writing by the achievement of abolition.

We are contributing to the efforts which are being made by many, both inside and outside of educational institutions, to grasp how the slavery business in its many manifestations was part of British life - not something that belonged to the Caribbean but part of the everyday fabric of life in the metropole. We are launching our web-based Encyclopaedia on Feb 27 and this will be a powerful research tool for all historians - whether family, local or professional.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I came to UCL in 1998 - prior to that I taught at the University of Essex and before that at the University of East London. My experience across these three very different institutions has taught me a lot about how higher education works in contemporary Britain.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Over the last 30-plus years I have been part of the efforts to bring questions of gender, race and empire into the historical mainstream. We have seen many changes in how history is thought about and taught over that period - but there is still much to be done and the teaching of history remains a very controversial subject.

What is your life like outside UCL?

Very full - family, friends, networks of other historians - writing, publishing, journals etc. I also love fiction, Hampstead Heath, London life and the Colne Estuary.