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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Janus-faced Imperialists: Jews and the West Coast of Africa, 1787-1884 Seminar

12 May 2015
Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Parkes Institute at .

Event details

Part of the Parkes Institute Seminar series and organised in collaboration with History

The historiography of British imperialism traditionally centres upon the role of Britain as abolitionist force after 1807. The role of Britain as a global enforcer of anti-slave trading and then anti-slavery campaigners pays scant regard to the involvement of non-Christians in this endeavour. Similarly the historiography of Jews within the empire project seldom discusses their involvement in the nefarious trade except for Sephardi involvement in the Caribbean. Bridging what appears very disparate historiographies is a central feature of what this paper considers. Focusing in particular upon a small number of cases studies we have been able to identify discussion will centre upon the common threads tying Jewish involvement in the expansion of British imperialism in the West Coast of Africa – themes that also have relevance to the development of South Africa. Whilst not attempting to re-write the historiography of either schools of thought this work in progress contributes to broader questions considered about Jewish involvement in colonial and postcolonial worlds.


Suzanne Schwarz’s research interests focus on the transatlantic slave trade and abolition in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Her current research on Sierra Leone examines the development of the colony, and the ways in which abolitionists attempted to undermine the slave trade and reform African economy and society through policies of ‘Commerce, Civilization and Christianity’. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Member of Council of the Hakluyt Society and Committee member of Fontes Historiae Africanae. This paper draws upon joint research during her visiting Leverhulme Fellowship to Hull in 2012-13.

Nick Evans research interests focus upon comparing the voluntary and coercive migration of various diasporas during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - with a particular interest in the migration of Jews to, through and from Britain and her empire. Throughout his career he has served as historical advisor to a number of organisations and most recently worked as AHRC Historical Advisor to the BBC's Centenary of the First World War and is co-investigator of the ESRC Seminar Series 'Scotland's Diasporas in International Comparative Perspective'.

Portrait of financier and philanthropist Abraham Goldsmid (c.1756-1810) by Dighton, 1806 (“Courtesy of Jewish Museum London”)
History of British Imperialism
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