Legacies of Enslavement

The work of our Fellowship & alumni have shaped, and been given shape by, debates & decisions in wider society. Some of these narratives are a familiar part of the history of Emmanuel. Other stories have been less frequently told, but are no less a part of our history.

Map of eighteenth century Jamaica

Emmanuel's Histories Group acknowledges all the paths taken to form our community. We aim to encourage informed, respectful, & honest conversations about these intertwined, and frequently challenging, histories. The primary focus has been the transatlantic trade in enslaved people, and the cultures & legacies of enslavement and abolitionist thought.

It is possible to build a sense of our connections to the transatlantic world of the long eighteenth century. Some of the men admitted to study at the College participated in the legislative, financial and mercantile cultures of slavery. Much of this participation commenced at the beginning of the trade in enslaved African people. Our current research concludes at the abolition of enslavement in the British colonies. From archival evidence, the College community also exchanged ideas & arguments that challenged public understanding of enslavement.

Progress Update 2022

The University of Cambridge published a report on its Legacies of Enslavement Inquiry: a threeyear study into the ways that the University contributed to, benefited from or challenged the trade in enslaved people across the Atlantic.

In Summer 2020, a group of interested Emmanuel members came together to consider how best to shape Emmanuel’s own response, and to embark on some initial historical scoping as described here. We aim for constructive, informed conversation about our entwined histories and robust support for the shared future of our community.

Visiting Fellowship

This year we will be inviting proposals for a Visiting Fellowship, to research the historical involvement of the College with the systems and cultures of slavery. This will create an opportunity for a specialist in the field to build out from the available resources, widening and deepening the knowledge we have, and sharing it with the Emmanuel community and beyond.

Northfield Scholarship

Since 2000, we have been able to offer a scholarship to Caribbean students, thanks to a generous gift from the Right Honourable Lord Northfield: to allow outstanding scholars from ‘the territories formally comprising the British West Indies’ to study at Cambridge. The scholarship covers full tuition fees for overseas students and a personal allowance, including travel expenses. Lord Northfield expressed his desire to make this benefaction with reference to the history of Britain’s enslavement of people of African descent. The College has recently scaled up publicity to potential applicants for the Scholarship as part of its response to the Legacies of Enslavement inquiry.

Online Shadowing Scheme for Year 11 Students

We are entering the third year of a successful studentled scheme for students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds. Mentors from the Emmanuel undergraduate community work together with the College’s Schools Liaison Officer to offer students in Year 11 a taste of academic and social life at Cambridge. Please contact our ECSU Racial Equalities Officer (Ebenezer), or Access & Class Officers (Francesca & Ann) if you are interested in volunteering for this year’s Scheme!

Minutes of Working Group Meetings