Project Leader(s): Jane Webster
Partners: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
This ongoing project investigate the material culture of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (c.1500-1880). In 2001 I was awarded a Caird Senior Research Fellowship at the National Maritime Museum to initiate this research which asks: what artefacts would be found on a ship engaged in slave trading, and can examples of these be found in British museums? The project is multi-faceted, collating information drawn from published and unpublished documentary sources, maritime archaeological research, and objects and paintings curated by museums throughout Britain. Few attempts have been made to study the material culture of slave ships together with documentary and pictorial sources in order to develop a more rounded picture of the unique experience that was the voyage into slavery. In other words, nobody has attempted to write an historical archaeology of the Middle Passage. That is the ultimate aim of the present project.
The symposium, published in the Journal of Legal History 29 (3) (2007) comprises papers presented at a conference organised by Professor Andrew Lewis in November 2006. In 1781 132 living Africans were thrown overboard the slave ship Zong, resulting in a landmark court case. Contributors include Tim Armstong, Andrew Lewis, Michael Lobban, James Oldham, Anita Rupprecht and Jane Webster.
This interdisciplinary conference brought together critical reflections on the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade in 2007. Our goal was not to duplicate the many commemorative events and conferences that took place in 2007, but rather to document and intervene in a debate on the politics of such commemorations. The conference took place at Newcastle University and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle in November 2007. I organised it with my colleague Diana Paton.