Slave Rebellion, Race and Radicalism in
Early Nineteenth-Century England
Ryan Hanley (New College Oxford):
6pm, Wednesday 27 January
UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN
In 1817, the black radical author and orator Robert Wedderburn laid out his plan to overthrow slavery and establish a utopia of freedom and political equality in Jamaica, exporting the ideals of British radicalism to the enslaved there. His notion of a politically actualised, ethnically diverse transatlantic proletariat remains an attractive one for many scholars of slavery and resistance. But how typical was Wedderburn’s approach?
This paper will explore how Britain’s radicals negotiated the vexed issues of race, abolition and insurrection during their quest for political equality in the early nineteenth century. It interrogates the sometimes troubled relationship between working-class political activism and slave-led armed rebellion in the Caribbean, helping us to understand not only how Britain’s working people helped to change the face of slave resistance, but how it changed them.
Ryan Hanley is the Salvesen Junior Fellow in History at New College Oxford. He is the editor, with Katie Donington and Jessica Moody, of the forthcoming Britain’s History and Memory of Slavery: Local Nuances of a ‘National Sin’ (Liverpool University Press, 2016).