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This paper will examine the arguments deployed by the West India Interest during their defence of slavery against the British campaign for colonial slave emancipation. By exploring the religious, racial, economic, and social ideas deployed by the slaveholders and their allies, this paper will ask how far the fight over colonial slavery shaped contemporary political and intellectual trends and whether those debates had a lasting influence on the formation of Victorian Britain. It will further consider whether colonial slavery figured so prominently as part of the British political landscape that the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 should be regarded as key event in what has been described as the collapse of the British ancien regime.


Dr Michael Taylor is an historian of colonial slavery, the British Empire and the British Isles. He graduated with a double first in history from the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD in 2015. He was subsequently Lecturer in Modern British History at Balliol College, Oxford, and a Visiting Fellow at the British Library's Eccles Centre for American Studies. His book The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery (2020) was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2021. 


The paper will be followed the seminar's summer party from 7-8.30pm. Attendees must pre-register, and identify themselves at the Reception Desk in the Strand Building Lobby. Masks should be brought for entering and leaving the building.

Seminar: 5.15-7.00pm BST
Summer party 7.00-8.30pm BST


All welcome- this event is free to attend, but advance booking is required.