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Slave Empire: How Slavery Made Modern Britain
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Slave Empire: How Slavery Made Modern Britain (Hardback)

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The British empire, in sentimental myth, was more free, more just and more fair than its rivals; if other empires left their old colonies backward basket cases when their power waned, the British empire is said to have left railways, print culture and democracy. But this claim that the British empire was 'free' and that, for all of its flaws and missteps, it promised liberty to all its subjects has always been a lie - the British empire was built on slavery.

Slave Empire puts enslaved people at the centre of the global web of colonies, territories, outposts, commercial projects and institutions that made up the British empire. The book explores the world of British slavery in intimate, human detail. Each chapter takes readers to a particular moment and place important to the history of British slavery - from the Jamaican bivouac of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army in 1655, to the secret meetings of enslaved revolutionaries in Barbados in 1816 - and builds outward, showing how slavery and the work of enslaved labourers were the sinews of the empire. With vivid original research and careful synthesis of innovative historical scholarship, Slave Empire shows that British freedom and British slavery were made together.

In the nineteenth century, Britain abolished its slave trade, and then slavery in its colonial empire. But the British empire remained a slave empire. The end of slavery was not the end of racism, and the cultural and economic legacies of two centuries of imperial slavery were much more difficult to abolish than slavery itself.

Freedom - free elections, free labour and free trade - were the watchwords of the Victorian British empire, but the empire was still sustained by the labour of enslaved people. The Britain of today has inherited the legacies of a long-gone British empire built on slavery. Modern capitalism and liberalism emphasise 'freedom' - for individuals and for markets - but are built on human bondage.

History & PoliticsHistory General & TheoryGeneral & world historyHistory & PoliticsRegional & national historyEuropean historyBritish & Irish history Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Publication Date: 24/09/2020 ISBN-13: 9781472142351  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Pre-order for despatch on publication. Pre-Order

Dr Padraic X. Scanlan earned a BA (Hons) in History from McGill University in 2008, and a PhD in History from Princeton University in 2013. He is Assistant Professor in the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto and a Research Associate at the Joint Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge. He has also held appointments at the London School of Economics and Harvard University.

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