Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery explores links between slavery in the British Empire and settler colonialism by tracing the movement of capital, people and culture from slave-owning Britain to Western Australia (WA).

This project examines the importance of the legacy of British slavery for the colonisation of Western Australia, and the reasons why this history has been overlooked. In August 1833 British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape when it passed the ‘Act for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Colonies, for promoting the industry of manumitted slaves, and for compensating the persons hitherto entitled to the services of such slaves.’ While this momentous event has continued to be celebrated, it is often forgotten that many of those who benefited from slavery had ties to other parts of the British Empire, including the settler colonies of Australia, Canada and South Africa.

Our team aims to trace the movement of people, goods, capital, and practices from the Caribbean to the newly-established colony of Western Australia. We are working in collaboration with the National Centre of Biography, the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM), and the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership at University College London. The project will research Western Australian colonists and their networks, contributing to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the People Australia database, and an exhibition at the ANMM.

It is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC DP200100094).


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The Legacies of British Slavery and Labour History

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Professor Jane Lydon and Dr Jeremy Martens will take part in the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History seminar series at 5:00 pm AEST on 16 May 2022 via Zoom.

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–  Meeting ID: 937 1269 0380 Passcode: 692737 - Please download and log in early (between 5 and 10 minutes earlier)
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LEAP Webinar Series - Georgina Arnott and Jeremy Martens present on 27 October 2021

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Georgina Arnott and Jeremy Martens, from the University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia will present on 'FORCED LABOUR, VIOLENCE AND THE CAREER OF JAMES STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S FOUNDING GOVERNOR" 09h00 - 10h00 (GMT +2 (Pretoria/Harare))

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