Lancaster University historians will lead £1 million project on slave trade impact

The significance of the trans-Atlantic slave trade will come under scrutiny in a new £1 million project led by Lancaster University.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded two prize-winning historians in the History Department, Professor William Pettigrew and Dr Nicholas Radburn, the research grant.

They will lead a national consortium, including historians at the University of Manchester and UCL, to investigate the significance of the transatlantic slave trade to Britain’s economic, political, and cultural development.

By examining, for the first time, the entire population of 6,500 investors in the slave trade, the project will provide new insights on the extensive networks of individuals that tied Britain’s economy to Atlantic slavery.

In so doing, the project will inscribe the slave trade’s history into the story of British social and economic development, and contribute to ongoing debates about Britain’s modern debt for the legacies of enslavement.

Principal Investigator on the project Professor Pettigrew said: “Britain’s ability to confront her colonial past and post-colonial present depends upon the provision of high-quality data.

“This project will supply that need.”

Dr Radburn added: “This project promises to revolutionise our understanding of Britain’s historical involvement in the slave trade and the importance of that history for shaping our modern society.”

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