The United Kingdom’s University of Bristol has joined Universities Studying Slavery.

The University of Bristol has joined Universities Studying Slavery (USS), further evidence of the importance of our collective work, work that is not confined to schools in the United States.

The port city of Bristol in southwest England was  heavily involved in the early years of the Atlantic slave economy. The University of Bristol is currently going through a process of researching the contributions to the university made by local slave traders and other slave economy beneficiaries.

The Bristol team was initially led by a group of scholars including Dr. Andrea Livesey (who left Bristol for Liverpool John Moores University earlier in 2018) and Professor Tim Cole, all of whom were part of the school’s Centre for Black Humanities. The project is now led by Dr. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman and Dr. Richard Stone.

The University of Bristol has also developed a new short course, Ways Into History, that considers the history of slavery, with a particular focus on the city of Bristol and its role in the slave trade. It considers what exactly slavery is, and how slavery on the West Indian and American Plantations compares to other historic slave systems. It also looks at the broader impact of the slave trade; how did it benefit England, and to what extent did it damage Africa? Are English country houses tainted with the blood of slaves? Last, it considers how the slave trade has been remembered in Bristol and elsewhere, thinking about how commemoration has become intertwined with modern day political concerns. Throughout, the aim is to tackle difficult questions about both the historic realities of slavery and the slave trade, and the ways in which it has been remembered.