Uyghur Region

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Public Lectures at the Wilberforce Institute, Autumn 2023 to Spring 2024

As the days shorten and the new University term begins, we look forward to welcoming you to our new season of public lectures at the Wilberforce Institute, listed below. All will take place at our home in Oriel Chambers, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE, unless otherwise stated.

Join us for refreshments from 4.15 pm onwards, and if you can, stay afterwards for a glass of wine and a chance to talk with our speaker. If you can’t make it in person, you can still enjoy the lectures by streaming online.  Please click on the title of the event below to book. 

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE

When: Wednesday, 18 October, 2023, 17.30 BST

Professor Simon Newman, University of Glasgow

In 1772 the Somerset Case severely curtailed the rights of enslavers over enslaved people within England, and six years later the Knight case went even further in Scotland. This lecture will explore how over the preceding one hundred and twenty years enslaved people who resisted bondage in Britain by escaping had challenged the effectiveness of the institution of slavery within Britain, and by the 1770s had normalized freedom as the condition of most Black people in the British Isles. Despite their symbolic significance, these court cases effectively recognised what freedom seekers had already achieved.

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE

When: Wednesday, 8 November, 2023 16.30 GMT

Dr Jake Subryan Richards, London School of Economics

Across the nineteenth century, slave traders trafficked almost 4 million people from sub-Saharan Africa to territories in North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Aside from being unjust in these victims’ eyes, this transoceanic trafficking breached the domestic law of many places in the Americas. The trade also breached emerging international law. One prominent aspect of applying these laws against the trade was the deployment of naval squadrons that captured hundreds of slaving ships, rescuing hundreds of thousands of shipboard captives from these ships. At various sites in Africa and the Americas, courts adjudicated the legality of these naval captures and assigned the ‘liberated Africans’ from these ships into indentured labour. After horrific ordeals of maritime captivity and bonded labour that bore many similarities to enslavement, these ‘liberated Africans’ built their own lives in the face of political authorities committed to slavery and imperial rule. Following their paths helps to illuminate illegal enslavement, its protracted abolition, and its troubling afterlives. 

Where: Main University of Hull Campus, Cottingham Rd, Hull HU6 7RX - more details to follow 

When: Wednesday, 22 November, 2023, 16.30 GMT

Professor Phil Withington, University of Sheffield

In 1500 the language of 'slavery' was unused in English; by the 1650s, it was the usual term for English men and women to describe states of unfreedom. This talk outlines the remarkable rise of slavery in the English vernacular before the creation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, focusing on how the language was used in popular print culture.

This is a joint lecture held in conjunction with the School of Humanities

Where:  Lecture Theatre 27, Wilberforce Building, University of Hull, Cottingham Road HU6 7RX

When:  Wednesday, 17 January, 2024 16.30 GMT

Dr Nicholas Evans, University of Hull

The year 2024 marks the thirtieth anniversary of multiracial democratic elections in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela, one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic former prisoners, as the first Black President of the Republic of South Africa. This illustrated talk explores Robben Island's rich heritage as a place for medical and carceral isolation under Dutch, British and Afrikaner rule. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on the island, situated just outside of Cape Town, for eighteen years. Since then, his former prison cell has been visited by global figures including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But how have custodians preserving the island's rich heritage struggled with preserving one of the world's most well-known prisons? And how does prison heritage prevent stories of the incarceration of prisoners other than Nelson Mandela from gaining greater attention? This research draws upon fieldwork conducted as part of the AHRC sponsored project 'Remember Me: The Changing Face of Memorialisation' of which Dr Evans was co-investigator.

This is a joint lecture held in conjunction with the Cultures of Incarceration Centre

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE

When:  Wednesday, 7 February, 2024, 16.30 GMT

Dr Charlotte Russell talks about her completed thesis on refugees in the Aegean.

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE

When:  Wednesday, 28 February, 2024 16.30 GMT

Professor Gary Craig, Visiting Fellow, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Dr David Murden, Director of Africa Lands Trust

Gary Craig was Professor of Social Justice at Hull University until 2009 and was one of the three founders of the Wilberforce Institute, leading on the modern slavery stream. He will be talking about a project called Emerging Voices, an action research multifaceted education project aimed at educating young people in Ghana's cities about the dangers of modern slavery, especially trafficking and forced labour. The project, based within a wider project in Accra, used techniques of drama, art, music, group discussion and project visits to historical slavery sites. By the end of the project, an evaluation demonstrated that many young people had established a much clearer view of how modern slavery worked (which is rife in, for example, the harvesting of cocoa beans in the west of the country, and on the Volta Lake where young people were enslaved, often sold by their families, to work for fishermen in their work). The project was partly funded by the AKN [Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network within the AHRC] funding stream, and the project is now attempting to ensure the lessons are built into a national curriculum for all secondary education in the country.

David Murden is Director and Founder of Africa Lands Trust. A personal story introduction can still be found on the website “David”. After thirty years experience working and trading in West Africa centred on Ghana and Burkina especially following a main slave route, it is now time to begin phase two of our development vision as Africa Lands Trust. This talk will particularly illustrate the exploration and model of development for these remote and neglected villages of the White Volta. As a Wilberforce Heritage project it is linked to the Wilberforce Institute and the provision of the medical and survey boats in the project is intimately linked to Hull. 

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE

When: Wednesday, 17 April, 2024, 16.30 BST 

Professor Laura Murphy, Sheffield Hallam University

The Uyghur Region of China (officially known as Xinjiang, known by many of its Indigenous people as East Turkestan) has been the centre of the PRC's strategic program of state-sponsored forced labour. The nearly ubiquitous forced labour in the region affects global supply chains from apparel to renewable energy, plastics to electronics, raw materials to automobiles. This talk will discuss why the PRC government is expending so many resources on this program of oppression, on the ways the government manufactures vulnerability among its Indigenous citizens as justification for its actions, and on the discourses of ‘urgency’ and ‘complexity’ that international corporations use as shelter for their complicity. 

Where: Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE 

When: Wednesday, 15 May, 2024, 16.30 BST

Professor Emily West, University of Reading

This talk will develop some themes from my current book project on the labour of care in the living quarters in the antebellum US South, especially the labour associated with feeding enslaved people. Enslavers wanted the enslaved to eat with maximum efficiency at minimal cost, so they attempted to impose regimented, institutional style feeding regimes on their plantations and farms. Most of this labour fell upon enslaved women, for whom feeding has a duality as a form of gendered exploitation, but also a means by which women found pleasure, nurture, and empowerment through the cooking, preparation, and consumption of food. Routinely tasked with the feeding of infant and babies, which sometimes involved the practice of wet-nursing, enslaved women also cooked for and fed older children and other adults throughout the working day and sometimes in the evenings as well. These women performed a vital role but have yet to be centred in our analysis of slavery’s machinations and enslavers’ drive for efficiencies. 

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