School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Studying the life cycle of the British slave trade (1680-1807): a chaîne opératoire/artefact biography approach to metal trade goods.

Supervision Team: Dr Jane Webster and Dr Andrea Dolfini

Overview

For some 300 years between c.1550 and 1850, Africans were carried forcibly into slavery across the Atlantic.

The commodification of these individuals, and the chain of thought and actions by which they passed from Africa to the Americas, and from personhood to chattel status, is well understood.

Far less attention has been paid to the commodities for which Africans were themselves exchanged, and to the role of manufactured goods in shaping and sustaining the slave trade.

This project will focus on the ‘life histories’ of metal trade goods produced for the British slave trade (1680-1807).

Employing an archaeological methodology drawing on both chaîne opératoire analysis and the concept of artefact biography, it will ask what information exploration of the life histories of artefacts manufactured specifically for the trade might potentially shed on the chain of human actions and interactions which sustained the business of slaving, and enabled Britain to dominate the transatlantic slave trade between c.1720 and 1807.

Subject area: Historical Archaeology, Maritime Archaeology and Archaeometallurgy

Contact:

School of Historical Studies
The Armstrong Building
Newcastle University
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
United Kingdom
NE1 7RU

Email: m.c.smith1@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)7502 347276

About me

Research projects and papers

  • The British Slave Shipwreck Database (Forthcoming) - an online database containing documentary evidence for the location of more than 600 slave shipwrecks which departed from Britain c.1680 to 1807.
  • Locating Slave Shipwrecks in English Waters: Final Results (23rd November 2011) - a presentation of findings given at the York office of English Heritage.
  • Locating Slave Shipwrecks in English Waters: Preliminary Results (27th July 2011 and 16th May 2011) - a presentation of findings given at both the London and Swindon offices of English Heritage.

Curriculum Vitae

  • PhD in Archaeology – Studying the life cycle of the British slave trade (1680-1807): a chaîne opératoire/artefact biography approach to metal trade goods – October 2011 – September 2014 (Current)
  • MLitt in Archaeology – Identifying and Mapping Slave Shipwrecks – October 2010 – September 2011
  • BA in Archaeology and History – October 2007 – June 2010

Teaching

ARA3028 – Dissertation Research Training
HIS3108 – Coffee, Chocolate and Tobacco

Funding:

  • AHRC PhD Funding – October 2011 – September 2014
  • AHRC MLitt Funding – October 2010 – September 2011
  • Vacation Scholarship Award – June 2009 – August 2009

Prizes:

RM Harrison Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation in Archaeology (2010)