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Black slavery/white freedom: two sides of the same coin in Britain and the Caribbean

Catherine Hall, Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History, University College London

Date/Time: 13th October 2016

This talk looked at the work of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project at University College London ( It used the story of the Pennant family in Jamaica and Wales to excavate the meanings of slavery and freedom. The enslavement of Africans provided the conditions for the freedom of white colonists in the Caribbean. Yet at the same time those colonists were engaged in using the wealth derived from sugar to develop their activities as agrarian and industrial capitalists ‘at home’, driving Welsh workers into ‘wage slavery’. ‘Whose slavery?’ and ‘Whose freedom?’ seem important questions to address.

Catherine Hall is Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London. Her recent work has focused on the relation between Britain and its empire, and since 2009 she has been the Principal Investigator on the ESRC/AHRC project ‘Legacies of British Slave-ownership’ – which seeks to put slavery back into British history.