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).

Events

Seminar series: Writing Slavery into Australian History

The Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery project, in collaboration with the National Centre for Biography, presents a series of online seminars around the theme of Writing Slavery into Australian History.  These seminars aim to explore the life stories of Australian colonists and their networks, and to produce new sources and methods for writing biographies that …

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