This response argues that histories of globalization must take account of histories of empire and of postcolonialism if they are to represent with accuracy the structural conditions which undergird current conditions. In doing so, they must also seek to reverse the directionality of traditional imperial history, which appears to have left its imprint even on narratives that do not attend expressly to imperial histories. That is to say, they must interrogate the presumption that power flowed only from metropole to colony an that "native" political economies and indigenous actors did not push back against imperial forces. We need narratives that explore, in short, how and why the local was not simply created by empire, but exercised a discrete and ultimately provincializing role in global history.
The Quaker doctor, scientist and philanthropist, Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) founded the Aborigines' Protection Society (APS) in 1837 in order to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the British Empire. While the Aborigines' Protection Society had limited success, Hodgkin's position as a humanitarian campaigner on imperial affairs and interest in human natural history gave him a distinctive perspective on the anti-slavery and missionary movements. Although Hodgkin acknowledged the importance of combating slavery and the slave-trade and was committed to missionary endeavours, his concern for the welfare and rights of indigenous peoples led him to criticize the priorities and strategies of missionaries and abolitionists. Hodgkin made interventions in the missionary debate over whether conversion should precede or follow efforts to 'civilize' the heathen, favouring the latter. He criticized the emphasis of missionaries on spiritual, at the expense of material, welfare; and he was concerned that they colluded with settler interests in southern Africa, New Zealand and Canada. Hodgkin envied the missionary societies their success at raising funds and creating extensive networks through which information could be disseminated; and he despaired at their supporters' ignorance of the APS. Although he condemned slavery, and knew many of the leading British anti-slavery campaigners (including Thomas Clarkson and Thomas Fowell Buxton) this did not prevent Hodgkin from offering a critique of anti-slavery activity. Unfashionably, he emphasized long-term economic and social stability over immediate and unconditional freedom for slaves in the 1830s, arguing for a gradualist approach. Subsequently, while Britons increasingly made recourse to racial explanations for the Caribbean's economic decline, Hodgkin blamed it on the colonies' inequitable political and social circumstances. Hodgkin also argued that the development of 'civilized' West African communities, which engaged in 'legitimate commerce' rather than the slave-trade, was critical for ending slavery. He passionately supported the controversial American Colonization Society, and became involved in several similar British schemes designed to encourage emancipists from the Caribbean and the USA to colonize Africa. Throughout his life, Hodgkin's tendency was to universalize and generalize. His involvement in the nascent discipline of 'ethnology' (he founded the Ethnological Society of London), both demonstrated this tendency and bound his scientific and humanitarian concerns together. Hodgkin saw ethnology as the 'universal history of mankind'; simultaneously proving the monogenetic origins of humanity and providing a reminder of Britain's responsibilities to the Empire's colonized. Yet this strength, which led him to combat racism and to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, was also Hodgkin's weakness. He had no first-hand experience of the colonies, and, because of his reductive view of humanity, was often blind to the particularities of the colonial context. The universal 'civilization' that he embraced and promoted was profoundly ethnocentric. Despite their flaws, however, Hodgkin's criticisms of mid nineteenth-century humanitarian activity provoke a reassessment of the missionary and anti-slavery movements, in particular exposing their inconsistencies, ethnocentric nature and paternalism, while illuminating the fear of failure which arose from such significant investment in the mighty experiment and missionary activity.
Attempts by museums to commemorate the 200th anniversary in 2007 of Britain's outlawing of the international slave-trade have highlighted a number of cognitive gaps in the relationship between museums and academic specialists on slavery. In particular, the ability of many academics to provide advice to exhibition curators and outreach workers is compromised by their lack of exposure to the attitudes and information levels of the public. Understanding about how museums communicate with the public is also poor, which often results in university-based scholars viewing a museum's exhibition on their subject specialization as a 'dumbed-down' form of communication. More frequent engagement between academics and museums may speed up the transfer of ideas from the university environment to the public. The museum activities in 2007 have also revealed that transatlantic slavery and African-Caribbean history in general are not yet considered a normal or ordinary part of a British museum's brief. The perceived difficulties of mounting exhibitions or planning ancillary events on these topics lead to a 'curating by committee' approach which undermines bold and imaginative treatments and waters down direct language. These problems appear to be magnified for 'blockbuster' exhibitions involving large amounts of public funding, suggesting that in future scarce resources would be better directed towards smaller, more focused projects.
Over the last few years, the African American led campaign for Slavery Reparations has combined the project of historical excavation with the demand for recognition and redress by moving cultural memory directly into the adversarial sphere. Activists have brought a set of court actions that identify seventeen major international corporations whose predecessors were enriched via the profits amassed, directly or indirectly, through the transatlantic slave trade and slavery between 1619 and 1865. While the cases have been dismissed, a series of Slavery Era Bills have been passed in several states. These Bills require companies that do business in the vicinity to research their records and to disclose evidence of any involvement in slavery or the slave trade. This article presents a detailed analysis of one such report by the insurance corporation Royal Sun & Alliance, submitted in 2002. It demonstrates that the company disclosure opens up a hitherto occluded aspect of slave resistance. As the report confirms, eighteenth-century maritime insurance policies on slaves in transit to the Americas initially developed in relation to European kidnap and ransom policies. In the later part of the eighteenth century underwriters began to include clauses in their policies that compensated traders for losses in the event of insurrection. Insurrection was considered to be so predictable that policies also included an excess of five or ten per cent. In conclusion, the article argues that the Reparations movement is reactivating the history of slavery by facilitating the exposure of connections between the past and the present. As the history of insurance reveals, slavery and resistance are central to the development of key conceptual structures that govern the financial and legal parameters of contemporary global capital.
This article focuses on the Zong, the infamous slave-ship of the 1780s which saw a mass murder of African slaves upon whom insurance was later claimed. Commencing with reflections on how we might deepen our knowledge of the Zong, it moves on to consider how its events were absorbed into English law. It demonstrates that the Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, intervened in the case to ensure that fundamental precepts of insurance law would not be disturbed. The fact that the victims were African slaves allowed their murders to be discounted and their tragedy to be sacrificed on the altar of a particular legal project. However, Mansfield - it is emphasized - had earlier made judgements which trammelled the power of slaveholders and which brought their relations with slaves within the rule of law; he also had a loving relationship with Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of a slave and a woman who had been brought up in his household. His behaviour in court, then, cannot easily be explained in terms of prejudice. It is argued, rather, that Mansfield's peculiar contortions in court - his arguments were incompatible with the law relating to murder - have to be understood in terms of the colossal legal project in which this great judge was engaged. That project - effacing confusions in the law and creating an ordered system in place of the jumble and uncertainties he confronted when he took office - drove him to deny humanity to the slaves of the Zong. It also excluded the possibility of murder charges being brought against those who killed them.
London between the wars was the location of experiments in living, an exemplar of the civilizing influence of education and a principal focus of Labour's determination to raise expectations. It was also a source of anxiety. Fears of urban contamination penetrating countryside and people, of population decline and demographic imbalance, of Britain's weak industrial structure and the threat of aerial bombardment run through the condition-of-Britain literature. London's expansion in the 1920s and '30s restructured the economic geography of Britain and with it people's lives and futures. With a population of 8.65 million and still growing Greater London stretched for a twenty-mile radius from Charing Cross, eating up agricultural land, swallowing small villages and towns its population swelling not from births but from migration; hacking, chopping sucking, vampiric metaphors described London's annihilating advance. Ten years earlier London's growth had been seen as neither ominous nor dangerous. In the late nineteen-twenties a vision of the metropolis as a vital economic force, risen from the ashes of the Great War and governed by a progressive political authority which extended outward to empire and inward to an educated, democratic population, was imposed over London's rambling development by the New Survey of London Life and Labour (1928-1935). The New Survey, product of the London School of Economics, follow-up to Booth's pioneering study forty years earlier, uncovered higher incomes, less poverty, a shorter working day and improved literacy. Londoners were readers, gardeners, 'listeners-in'; they were dancers, musicians, gamblers; they had acquired the 'habit of travel' and went to the cinema once a week - the price of ticket so cheap it kept the cost of all entertainments low. All these forces combined to 'shift the main centre of interest of a worker's life more and more from his daily work to his daily leisure'. This essay explores these historical forces - economic growth, the commerce in pleasure, migration, housing, city mentality - through the lens of the New Survey which captured London's economy and people on the cusp of change from want to 'decent comforts'. Education is the 'master-key' of progress; mobility and aspiration follow in its wake. If social research is the means through which the nation understood itself, then the New Survey marks a shift in liberal sentiment from empathy to entitlement, and its idiom overlaps with that of oral and written memory.
The controversies of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries over the Atlantic slave-trade and slavery itself can be usefully understood as a 'war of representation' fought between abolitionists and their opponents. This war took place over a variegated terrain and focused on different subjects. In this paper it is the sites and spaces of this war that are examined - from those of the individual pages of pamphlets, to real-world places in and beyond the Caribbean. Sites such as the West African colony of Sierra Leone were more or less explicitly compared with the West Indian colonies and thus the war of representation was a multi-theatre conflict. As a contribution to mapping the 'cartography' of the slavery controversy, the paper examines a series of exchanges that took place over Sierra Leone in the mid to late 1820s between former plantation-overseer and geographer of Africa, James MacQueen, and Kenneth Macaulay, cousin of the prominent abolitionist, Zachary Macaulay. The paper begins by locating the MacQueen Macaulay exchanges in relation to Sierra Leone's long-standing place in the war of representation. It then introduces the two protagonists and examines how they claimed their authority to represent the colony. The paper goes on to consider the two main substantive themes that characterized their exchanges: the healthiness, or otherwise, of Sierra Leone; and the suitability of its location on the West African coast. By tracing the various strategies and tactics employed in these exchanges, the paper examines how the sites of the page were connected to different worldly sites beyond, and how the war of representation over slavery was fought out at both scales simultaneously.
This article examines public monuments in London and their relationship to slavery and abolition, a topic that has attracted remarkably little empirical research. It argues that a significant proportion of the individuals commemorated by public statues in London during the long eighteenth century had important links with the slave-trade or plantation slavery and that these links need to be unearthed, contextualized and made explicit. It goes on to analyse those public statues and memorials which explicitly honour British abolitionists and finds that the way they are conceived and executed has generally favoured a conservatively self-congratulatory and defensive political agenda which has consistently marginalized the experience of enslaved Africans. However, the subsequent social lives of such monuments, it is further contended, merit closer investigation since their meaning is not set in stone but can be subverted and transformed according to context.
This article examines the ownership of the enslaved in the British Caribbean colonies at the time of Emancipation. Through a systematic investigation of the records underlying the work of the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, who were charged with distributing the twenty million pounds in compensation granted to the slave-owners under the 1833 Act, it seeks to map comprehensively the recipients of the major awards of compensation by geography, function and gender, and to identify the beneficial owners behind each such award. It demonstrates that while absentee ownership varied significantly between colonies, nevertheless across the Caribbean colonies as a whole more than half the compensation awarded can be traced to owners or other recipients in Britain. It acknowledges the widely-recognized importance of mercantile interests in London, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow as beneficiaries of compensation, both as owners and creditors, and emphasizes that new entrepreneurial capital continued to flow into highly profitable areas of the slave economy even after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Through tracing the flows of compensation payments, the article also identifies a hitherto neglected but material component of rentier slave-ownership, both large-scale ownership of the enslaved on colonial estates among sections of the British aristocracy and gentry, and smaller-scale ownership of the enslaved among the urban upper middle-classes in centres of polite leisured society along the south coast and in towns such as Bath, Clifton and Edinburgh. Within this rentier ownership, 'property' in the enslaved had been transformed in the years prior to Emancipation into an array of financial assets which were then managed by the established means of transmission and control of property between generations and genders, through marriage settlements, entail, annuities and legacies, thereby disseminating ownership more broadly within sections of British society. The article shows that the slave owners of the metropole, numbered in their thousands, appear disproportionately influential, being relatively heavily represented both in the unreformed and reformed House of Commons as well as within county society, for example as sheriffs. Slave-owners who received compensation were also concentrated in newly assertive Anglican organizations and activities of the period, including the subscribers to the funding of King's College London in the late 1820s. The article goes on to explore the discourses adopted by the metropolitan slave-owners in their dealings with the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, noting the gendered languages deployed, of entitlement by male slave-owners and of entreaty by female owners. The article seeks to raise two overarching issues. One is the extent to which traditional narratives of Emancipation require revision to incorporate more fully the role of compensation in securing the end of slavery in the British colonies, given the apparent continued influence of slave-owning and slave-owners within British society into the 1830s. The second is to suggest that, while more work is required to complete the tracing of the recycling of the compensation money into the British economy, notably the railway boom, nevertheless the work already done clearly highlights the existence of a number of families and firms still prominent in Britain which benefited directly from slave compensation, and that these historic linkages need to be weighed in any discussion of reparations for slavery.
This brief essay is intended to comment on Geoff Eley's essay 'Historicizing the Global, Politicizing Capital: Giving the Present a Name'. It is in three parts. The first critically reviews some recent literature on economic aspects of 'globalization', focusing in particular on authors associated with the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER). The second section poses the question of the relative absence of Asia - both China and India - in Eley's analysis, a remarkable blind spot of some dimensions. The final then looks at the question of the emergence of the 'global' as an object of study for historians, here revisiting some of my own earlier work and that of the French historian Serge Gruzinski. In the space of a few pages, a critique is thus offered both of Eley's own Eurocentric prejudices and his narrowly 'presentist' concerns.
'Globe Talk' explores the rhetorical power of globality, by historicizing the globe as artefact and emblem of sovereignty, as navigational tool of empire and as discourse. The concept of the earth as a single space - which the NASA Apollo photographs have made ubiquitous - is a compelling icon for both environmentalists and global corporations but tends to occlude the unevenness of capitalist modernity and the political inequalities underlying 'the war on global warming' and 'the global war on terror'.
This article explores the way in which abolition rhetoric was used in the Yorkshire elections of 1806 and 1807 to discredit candidates who supported the mechanization of the local wool industry. The 1807 election was held some two months after the bill abolishing the slave-trade became law. Amongst the candidates were William Wilberforce, already widely associated with the cause of abolition, and Henry Lascelles, whose fortune derived from West Indian slave economies. The way in which anti-slavery sentiment invoked ideas of liberty sheds light on the relationship between regional, national and imperial identities in constructing ideas of Britishness. Voters identified with rhetoric which evoked the empire, but they did so in ways that were highly localized and which gave slavery meanings more pertinent to circumstances within Yorkshire than in slave societies themselves. While powerful analogies were made between slavery and industrialization, they were cast in abstract moral terms which blunted the potential edge of class conflict, attacked alleged parvenus and endorsed concerns for a stable social hierarchy. The Yorkshire elections testify to the plasticity of public emotion about ending the slave trade in 1807 and suggest that we need to re-evaluate interpretations of abolition sentiment that regard it as either as a radicalizing force or as a distraction that muted political dissent in an industrializing economy.