Finding Opportunities for Blended Learning

As regular readers of my blog posts probably know, I’m currently taking an online course in Technology Enhanced Learning through the Open University. In this block we have been exploring ways in which to provide online or blended learning opportunities in which students are able to make choices about what activities they want to engage in as part of their studies. Blended Learning involves using a mix of elements for a course, such as including both live, face-to-face lectures and/or tutorials and online elements.

I’m excited to be planning two courses for the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Open Studies, one for their fall semester on slavery in the Americas and one in the winter on the history of abolition. This is a great opportunity for me to apply some of the knowledge I’ve gained in my studies at the OU so far and encourage my students to engage with my course in a variety of ways beyond the traditional lecture format and supplementary readings from textbooks and academic journal articles.

There are many different ways that we as course designers, lecturers and tutors can incorporate online learning into a course that is delivered live. Here are a few examples of ways in which we can create blended learning opportunities for students:

Online Forums

Online forums allow for students and instructors to share in asynchronous discussions online throughout the duration of the course. These are typically found in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that is specifically created by the school for that course. Forum discussion can revolve around specific themes, questions, or weeks, be used to ask for help from fellow students and the tutor, create an opportunity to share resources, and debate and challenge on another, all while supervised by a tutor who is able to monitor or actively participate in the discussions. Forum participation can also allow for concrete justification of a participation mark for a course.

Facebook Groups

If students are on Facebook, they might appreciate the setting up of a private group that only course participants can join. Using a familiar format such as Facebook gives students a familiar environment in which to post and share information, answer one another’s questions, and perhaps develop friendships and connections that will last beyond the course. These can be set up by the tutor or by the students.


Blogging can allow students to express themselves and share their thoughts on the course in writing in a format that can be read and revisited by themselves, their classmates, and the world. Blogging encourages students to write, reflect on their experiences, share helpful tips and resources, and reach out to others to build a sense of community. Both individual student blogs and course blogs may be included as part of the VLE. Without a VLE, students can start up their own free blog on a host server such as WordPress (like Isles Abroad) or the tutor can create a course blog then add their students as editors, share posts that are emailed to them, and include links to students’ individual blogs.


A Wiki is a webpage where all who have access to it can contribute to it, edit it, add to and delete things from it, and create links to new pages on the Wiki. Wikipedia is probably the most famous example of a Wiki. A course Wiki can be included in a class VLE or set up by a tutor using a hosting service (similar to the blogs above) and used for a variety of purposes. For example, in the course that I’m taking, our Wiki includes resources and useful authors on our topics of study with links to their work, answers for communal discussion questions that have come up over the weeks, and a page to schedule student-led online meetings.

Other ways to encourage group work and engagement with the course outside of class time include sharing Twitter account information and developing a hashtag and even a course account, suggesting WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Skype for texting and video chat, starting a class group on Diigo to share links to relevant online resources and personalised tags and annotations about the resources, and the creation and use of shared Google Docs to which everyone can contribute. Find out what technology your students are already using and utilise their interests and preferences when it comes to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to further student engagement and the sense of community on your course.

Suggested readings:

Judd, T. and Kennedy, G., ‘Measurement and evidence of computer-based task switching and multitasking by “Net Generation” students’, Computers & Education, vol.56, no.3 (2011): pp.625–31.

Kennedy, G.E., Judd, T.S, Churchward, A. and Gray, K., ‘First-year students’ experiences with technology: are they really digital natives?’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol.24, no.1, (2008): pp.108–22.

Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G. and Conole, G., ‘Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol.33, no.1 (2008): pp.21–33.

Kirkwood, A. and Price, L.,‘Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in higher education: what is “enhanced” and how do we know? A critical literature review’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol.39, no.1, pp.6–36.

Liebenberg, H., Chetty, Y. and Prinsloo, P.,‘Student access to and skills in using technology in an open and distance learning context’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), vol.13, no.4 (2012).


Postcard from The Church of Holyrood in Southampton, England

Postcard from The Church of Holyrood in Southampton, England


Ruins of The Church of Holyrood, Southampton – Photo credit: P. Dumas

The plaque on the front wall of the church reads:

The Church of Holyrood erected on this site in 1320 was damaged by enemy action on 30 Nov 1940. Known for centuries as the church of the sailors the ruins have been preserved by the people of Southampton as a memorial and garden of rest. Dedicated to those who served in the Merchant-Navy and lost their lives at sea.


Photo credit: P. Dumas


Photo credit: P. Dumas

An Ode to Local History Community Involvement


My town’s infamous 1940s fire truck (in process of restoration) – photo credit: L. Flewelling

To me, transnational history is about the balance between the local and the global, and so I think it’s appropriate on our blog to delve into the hyper-local: getting involved in local history promotion and preservation in our own communities.

One of the highlights of the past year for me has been volunteering for my town’s historical commission.  My hometown in Colorado, founded in the 1890s, was a coal mining company town until the mine closed in 1945.  From then on, it remained as a rural community of about 250 people until developers stepped in, in the late 1980s.

As a volunteer for the historical commission, it has been exciting to see how the commission members’ enthusiasm for local history has prompted the town board to support historic preservation and sharing local history with the community.  (The excited reactions to preserving the town’s old fire truck have been a personal highlight for me.)  There wouldn’t really be any reason for the town board to prioritize these things except for the interest and passion of community members.  Our town does not have any legal protections for historic structures, so it’s up to community members to make sure that what is still here is preserved.

It’s been especially great to see in this case how giving voice to our passion for history and showing our enthusiasm has influenced town funding decisions and made town board members excited to work with the historical commission.  I was just appointed an historical commissioner for my town, and would encourage anyone with an interest in history to see how they can get involved in historic preservation and telling the story of their local area’s history.  To me, drawing out stories of local community history is a great way to find entry points that anyone can relate to and latch on to, to create a wider interest in history overall amongst the general public.


1890s farmhouse and barn – photo credit: L. Flewelling

Captain Cook’s View of Hawaii

See my historical overview of the relationship between Britain and Hawaii here.


Lithograph from John Webber, “An Inland View in Atooi, One of the Sandwich Islands” – wikimedia commons

“In the course of my several voyages,” wrote Captain James Cook on 20 January 1778, “I never before met with the natives of any place so much astonished, as these people were, upon entering a ship.  Their eyes were continually flying from object to object; the wildness of their looks and gestures fully expressing their entire ignorance about everything they saw, and strongly marking to us, that, till now, they had never been visited by Europeans, nor been acquainted with any of our commodities except iron.”

Cook and the crews of the Resolution and Discovery had sighted O’ahu and Kaua’i two days earlier on 18 January.  The people of Atooi (Kaua’i) swam up to the ships and came aboard; Cook reported that they dismissed beads and mirrors as useless but were very interested in the Europeans’ iron tools.

“Plates of earthenware, china cups, and other such things, were so new to them, that they asked if they were made of wood; but wished to have some, that they might carry them to be looked at on shore.  They were in some respects naturally well bread, or, at least, fearful of giving offence, asking where they should sit down, whether they might spit upon the deck, and the like,” Cook reported in his journal.  “Some of them repeated a long prayer before they came on board; and others, afterward, sang and made motions with their hands, such as we had been accustomed to see in the dances of the islands we had lately visited.”


Engraving from John Webber, “Tereoboo, King of Owhyhee, bringing presents to Captain Cook” – wikimedia commons

In his journals, Cook carefully compared the people and customs of Hawaii to those of the other islands visited on his voyages.  With this, his third voyage, he had embarked from Plymouth with the Resolution on 12 July 1776, sailing to the Cape of Good Hope.  There the Discovery met them on 10 November.  From there the two ships traveled to Tasmania, the Cook Islands, and Tahiti.  The purpose of the voyage was based on a charge by the British Admiralty: to search for a Northwest Passage from the western coast of North America.  In 1775, the British government offered £20,000 to be shared among the crew of the ship that successfully located the Northwest Passage, and Cook took it upon himself to pursue the prize.

Along with the journals of Cook and several of the crew members, the voyage was also recorded by John Webber, a London-born artist who drew and painted what he observed on the journey.  His works highlight the people, places, and major events of the ships’ visits to Hawaii.

On their first stop at the islands, Cook and his crew spotted Kaua’i, Oah’u, Ni’ihau, and
two smaller islands, but they heard that there was more to the archipelago, which Cook named after the First Lord of the Admiralty.  The Resolution and Discovery stayed for only two weeks, then sailed on for North America to continue their pursuit of the Northwest Passage.  The two ships then returned to the Hawaiian Islands to winter, this time spotting Maui and dropping anchor at Karakakooa (Kealakekua) Bay on the island of Owhyhee (Hawaii).


John Webber, “Kealakekua Bay and the Village Kowroaa,” 1779 – wikimedia commons

Cook found the people of Hawaii to be “of a middling stature, firmly made, with some exceptions, neither remarkable for a beautiful shape, nor for striking features, which rather express and openness and good nature, than a keen, intelligent disposition.”  He described them as exceedingly friendly to the newcomers, but had a tendency to try to steal everything they could lay their hands on.  Cook reported that both men and women came aboard the ships and favored the crew with their company, but as he hoped to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections he “ordered all female visitors to be excluded from the ships.”  He also did not allow his crew members to go on shore until they had cleared a medical check so as “to prevent the importation of a fatal disease into this island, which I knew some of our men laboured under.”

He described the people of Hawaii as “vigorous, active, and most active swimmers; leaving their canoes upon the most trifling occasion; diving under them, and swimming to others though at a great distance.  It was very common to see women, with infants at the breast, when the surf was so high that they could not land in the canoes, leap overboard, and without endangering their little ones, swim to the shore, through a sea that looked dreadful.”

But Cook was most surprised by their language.  “Whatever resemblance we might discover, in the general manners of the people of Atooi to those of Otaheite (Tahiti), these of course were less striking than the coincidence of their language.  Indeed, the language of both places may be said to be almost word for word the same…. How shall we account for this nation’s having spread itself in so many detached islands, so widely disjoined from each other, in every quarter of the Pacific Ocean!”

Knowing the size and scope of European empires of his day, Cook marveled at the great distances inhabited by the Polynesians.  “How much further in either direction its colonies reach is not known; but what we know already, in consequence of this and our former voyage, warrants our pronouncing it to be, though perhaps not the most numerous, certainly, by far, the most extensive nation upon earth.”

At Kealakekua Bay, Cook and his crew had been given a grand ceremonial welcome and were able to supply the ships with large amounts of vegetables and pigs.  Cook had never seen so many people in one place throughout the course of his voyages.  “Besides those who had come off to us in canoes,” he wrote, “all the shore of the bay was covered with spectators, and many hundreds were swimming around the ships like shoals of fish.  We could not but be struck with the singularity of this scene; and perhaps there were few on board who now lamented our having failed in our endeavours to find a northern passage homeward, last summer. To this disappointment we owned our having it in our power to revisit the Sandwich Islands, and to enrich our voyage with a discovery which, though the last, seemed, in many respects, to be the most important that had hitherto been made by Europeans throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean.”


Captain Cook Monument, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park – photo credit: L. Flewelling

The Resolution and Discovery departed Hawaii on 4 February 1779.  A few days later, a storm damaged the Resolution and Cook reluctantly decided to return to Kealakekua Bay for repairs.  Tensions rose, as the people of Hawaii had already given a sendoff to the two ships with large amounts of food and gifts.  On 14 February, when Cook discovered that one of the islanders had stolen a large cutter, he decided to hold the main chief hostage until it was returned.  Chaos and skirmishing ensued, leading to Cook’s death.  After recovering their captain’s body, the remaining crew surveyed the rest of the Sandwich Islands, finally returning to England in October 1780.

See also:

Ham House!


Ham House – photo credit: L. Flewelling

It was a lovely, clear May day when I visited Ham House, a seventeenth-century estate near Richmond in London.  Built in 1610, Ham House was a gift from Charles I to William Murray.  Murray grew up as a close childhood friend of Charles I, as well as holding the position of “whipping boy” – taking punishments for any negative acts committed by Charles.

Murray was related to some of the leading Scottish Covenanters.  He acted as an intermediary during the First Bishops’ War and throughout the remainder of Charles I’s life.  With his position uncertain due to the turmoil of war, Murray transferred his property to his wife and daughters.  His daughter Elizabeth managed to maintain good relations with Oliver Cromwell, while also secretly aiding the Royalists.  Because the estate was only briefly sequestered by the Parliamentarians, the condition of Ham House was not impacted by the Civil War. 

Throughout the course of the war until his death in 1655, Murray himself remained active in trying to rally Scotland behind the Crown.  Upon Murray’s death, his earldom passed to Elizabeth.  Ham House remained under the control of her descendants for the next three hundred years.


Ham House – photo credit: L. Flewelling

British Abolition: Summer Reading List Edition

British Abolition: Summer Reading List Edition

The summer holidays are almost upon us (mine start Wednesday!)! Hopefully that will mean lots of us will have a chance to get some leisure reading done on a sunny beach somewhere, or on the deck of a boat in the high seas, or maybe in the backyard on a day when it isn’t raining. So what better time to try to pull together a summer reading list of books on British abolition?!

The study of British abolition has benefitted from detailed studies, competing perspectives, computer-aided research, published collections of primary sources, and historians from many countries working on the topic. But once in a while a study comes along that has such strength that future studies find that they have to react to it. It’s these types of studies that I’ve listed here.

A quick note to my fellow historians: This list is intended as an introduction to the major historiographical debates on the topic, rather than provide a complete picture of the historiographical debates over the decades.

Suggested readings:

Thomas Clarkson’s The History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade by the British Parliament (London: Paternoster-Row, 1808).

In this (very!) early published history of abolition, prominent abolitionist Thomas Clarkson placed the actions of abolitionists at the centre of both the popular movement and subsequent parliamentary action to end Britain’s participation in the slave trade. He depicted abolition as a great humanitarian achievement of which Britain could always be proud. This interpretation influenced generations of historians of British abolition.

Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery (London: Lowe and Brydon Ltd., 1964).

In his influential (and controversial) 1944 study, Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams argued that economics was the major factor in determining if and when abolition in the British West Indies would occur. He believed that slavery would have continued as long as it remained profitable. This theory became known as the ‘decline thesis’. According to Williams’ decline thesis, economics rather than humanitarianism was the determining factor in ending the institution of slavery.

David Brion Davis’ The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution 1770-1823 (London: Cornell University Press, 1975).

Davis’ ‘problem of slavery’ is that a master’s identity depends on owning slaves, leaving him beholden to the slave to maintain his status. Here Davis discusses why some groups in Britain and America were receptive to new ideas of liberty, equality, and economics. The philosophical framework of the American and French Revolutions combined with a drop in sugar prices and plantation land values to allow abolitionists to gain popular and political support.

Seymour Drescher’s Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977).

In Econocide, Seymour Drescher argued that, contrary to Williams’ assertions, the slave trade was growing in the era of abolition and thus decline could not sufficiently explain abolition. Market forces, he argued, would have caused the trade to increase had it not been for a change in popular and political beliefs. It was the pressure of abolitionists in the period 1788-1792 which caused Britons to view and, most importantly, assess West Indian slavery differently.

Christopher Leslie Brown’s Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

In Moral Capital, Brown described abolitionism as a way to validate the moral authority of Britain’s elites at home and in the colonies. Brown examined public opinion and evidence of slave resistance, but did not accept that either could explain British abolitionism. Tensions and fighting between Britain and her American colonies, in contrast, were critical to the development. He concluded that abolition had required a specific set of circumstances and people to be achieved when it was.

For a slightly more traditional summer read, why not check out Adam Hochschild’s Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005). Well-written with biographical details that draw the reader into the story of British abolition, it makes for an easier read and gives a good overview of some of the most influential individuals and goings-on in the era of abolition.

Plus there’s always my new book, Proslavery Britain, available here from Palgrave Macmillan.


Got a great suggestion? Add it in the comments. We’d love to hear it!

Postcard from the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool

Postcard from the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool

The Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool – Photo credit: Paula Dumas

The International Slavery Museum is located inside the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool. The Museum has static and changing displays, artefacts, and interactive elements. It addresses Britain’s role in transatlantic slavery and in abolition, modern day slavery, anti-slavery activism, slavery and racism, and Liverpool’s historic connections to the enslavement of Africans.

Displays in the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool – Photo credit: Paula Dumas

You can also follow the International Slavery Museum on Twitter @SlaveryMuseum.

William Cadbury, Chocolate, and Slavery in Portuguese West Africa

le-cacaoBy the 1870s, as demand for coffee and cocoa from West Africa was rapidly increasing, Portugal abolished slavery in its colonies.  But demand for labor continued to increase.  Plantation owners and government officials developed a state-supported system of contract labor, by which the people of West Africa would sign contracts to provide five years of labor for a set wage.  Workers were allegedly free to return to their homes at the end of their contracts if they chose, but among those who were sent to the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe (around 4,000 people per year by the turn of the century), no one ever returned.

The cocoa tree was introduced to West Africa from Central America by Europeans in the 1820s.  Because of the lack of infrastructure in São Tomé and Príncipe, cocoa bean exports did not take off until the 1880s.  With the end of slavery, contract laborers were brought to the islands from Angola in large numbers.  Humanitarian conditions for the contract laborers worsened from the 1870s onward.  By the early 1900s, between 20,000-40,000 slaves worked on about 230 plantations on São Tomé and 3,000 slaves labored on 50 plantations on Príncipe.  The death rate was estimated at 20% per year.  Children born on the estates were considered absolute property of the plantation owners.  While the workers were paid regularly, with 40% of their wages to be held back in a repatriation fund (which apparently did not actually exist for most plantations), workers were made to spend their wages at plantation stores.

Cadbury Brothers began importing cocoa beans from São Tomé in 1886.  John Cadbury had opened a tea and coffee shop in Birmingham in 1824.  In 1861, his sons Richard and George took over the business, which by that point had become a chocolate company.  Guided by Quaker principles, they created Bournville, a model village for the company’s employees to live and work.  After Richard’s death in 1899, Cadbury Brothers came under the chairmanship of George, while the next generation of sons – Barrow, William, Edward, and George Jr. – split responsibilities over various aspects of the company.

By the turn of the century, the chocolate business in Britain was dominated by three Quaker-owned companies – Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree.  São Tomé and Príncipe had become the world’s third largest exporter of cocoa beans (after Ecuador and Brazil), and Cadbury Brothers imported about 55% of its cocoa from the islands.  This made up about 20% of the total cocoa bean exports of São Tomé and Príncipe.  The British companies purchased the most significant quantities of cocoa beans from the islands, while European and American companies imported smaller amounts.

In 1901, William Cadbury came across an advertisement for the sale of a São Tomé plantation.  Included in the sale were the plantation laborers, indicating that the workers themselves were considered property. This coincided with rumors he had heard about slave labor in Angola, São Tomé, and Príncipe.  By this time, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and the Aborigines Protection Society (both organizations associated with Quakers) began to regularly condemn slave labor practices in Portuguese West Africa.  William Cadbury was commissioned by the board of Cadbury Brothers to investigate labor conditions on the plantations from which they purchased their cocoa beans.  He traveled to Lisbon, where most of the owners of the São Tomé and Príncipe plantations resided.  There he was assured that new labor regulations to be enacted on 29 January 1903 would ensure better conditions and repatriation for workers in the islands.

Investigative journalist Henry Nevinson traveled to Angola and São Tomé in 1905 to study labor conditions in Portuguese West Africa.  His resulting articles and photographs were published in Harper’s magazine from August 1905 to February 1906, and were compiled as a book, A Modern Slavery, which was published in 1906.  At the same time, after some delay, William Cadbury had commissioned Joseph Burtt to himself investigate the conditions on the plantations.  Burtt was a Quaker with no previous connections to the chocolate business who Cadbury hoped the Portuguese might consider unbiased.  Burtt spent a total of two years traveling, including six months in São Tomé and Príncipe.  His report was made available to the British public in October 1908.  The British Foreign Office also commissioned its own report.

Meanwhile, calls from Quaker humanitarians for their fellow Quaker business-owners to boycott Portuguese West African cocoa increased.  William Cadbury again traveled to Lisbon in late 1907 to meet with plantation owners.  With the horrifying reports of labor conditions, Cadbury asserted that for the company to continue to purchase cocoa from São Tomé and Príncipe it must be assured “that in the future it is to be produced by free labour.”

However, any potential for a boycott by British companies was deterred by political upheaval in Portugal.  On 1 February 1908, King Carlos I and his heir Luís Felipe were assassinated by revolutionaries, and Prime Minister João Franco was forced from office.

By 1908, William Cadbury had located an alternative source for cocoa supplies, so that Cadbury Brothers could maintain their chocolate production while sustaining a boycott on the Portuguese colonies.  The Gold Coast was determined to have better labor conditions and a higher quality cocoa product.  On 19 March 1909, Cadbury announced a boycott on slave-grown cocoa from São Tomé and Príncipe.  He convinced other British and American chocolate companies to join him.

At the same time, articles began to appear in various newspapers, including the Evening Standard, accusing Cadbury of exploiting slave labor for its own profit.  Cadbury Brothers managed to win a libel case against the Evening Standard, and William Cadbury wrote a book, Labour in Portuguese West Africa, outlining the main issues that emerged in the court case as he asserted that Cadbury Brothers were active in attempting to prevent forced labor rather than culpable in the practice.

Problems with labor exploitation in the cocoa industry persist to this day – particularly with child labor in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which together currently produce about 60% of the world’s cocoa.

Selected Readings:

  • Kevin Grant, A Civilized Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884-1926 (New York: Routledge, 2005)
  • Catherine Higgs, Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012)
  • Lowell J. Satre, Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005)

Researching International History Workshop

Researching International History Workshop

On Friday I gave a paper at the Researching International History Workshop that was held at The University of Edinburgh on May 6 & 7. The workshop brought together doctoral candidates, early career researchers, and internationally renowned historians who work in the broad (and growing) fields of international and transnational history.

It was the call for papers that made me want to participate and write a paper for the workshop. In the CFP, one of the suggested topics for potential speakers was to write about how the study of international or transnational history can relate to modern politics and law. I was already interested in looking into the funding and uses of recent slavery research for one or more future blog posts, so this was an ideal reason to get started on the research and a great opportunity to get feedback on a draft copy of the work.

I spoke about contemporary research into slavery history being conducted at British universities and how their findings have the potential to be used to support calls for reparations. I examined the origins of these research projects’ funding and the irony of how government funding could be being used to find information that challenges the David Cameron and his government’s position on reparations. My paper was well received and I got some good feedback.

I was the second to speak on a panel of three speakers and the only presenter on slavery history (and the only female presenter) on the day. In the Q&A session I got asked a great question that I hadn’t yet thought to address in my study:

Why did I think that the Caricom Committee was asking for reparations now?

Caricom, which stands for Caribbean Community, has 15 member states and 5 associate states from the Caribbean region. In March 2014, the Caricom Reparations Committee released a Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice as a means of achieving their goals, ‘to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the Region’s indigenous and African descendant communities who are victims of Crimes against Humanity (CAH) in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading and racial apartheid’.

My thoughts are that the wave of commemorations in 2007 addressing the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire didn’t start the calls for reparations by any means, but they did bring a lot of publicity and greater awareness of Britain’s past slaveholding and trading activities. Many new academic studies were published, memorials were held, and even commemorative coins were minted (which I plan to write more on at a later date). The public commemorations highlighted the role of British abolitionists, frequently leaving black agency out of the narrative and strategically overlooking Britain’s prior role as a leader in the transatlantic slave trade.


In this short time, in my view, increased public interest and an increase in relevant digitised resources plus funding bodies interested in providing money into slavery-related research has led to a greater understanding of Britain’s role in slavery and not just abolition, and this could then be used to support the case for reparations.

Postcard from St. John’s College, Cambridge

Following on the theme from earlier this week

St. John's College, Cambridge - L. Flewelling

St. John’s College, Cambridge – L. Flewelling

While there were definitely things to appreciate about being member of a college which does not have tourists coming through and peaking into the windows of students’ rooms, one of my favorite things to do in Cambridge is wandering through the gorgeous old college grounds.  St. John’s College was founded in 1511 and its buildings date from that year, but the college contains a pleasing array of architectural styles as it was added to over the centuries.

St. John's College, Cambridge - photo credit: L. Flewelling

St. John’s College, Cambridge – photo credit: L. Flewelling

View from the Bridge of Sighs - photo credit: L. Flewelling

View from the Bridge of Sighs – photo credit: L. Flewelling