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CSSJ Lunch Talk with Matthew Wyman-McCarthy | “Reforming Empire: Slavery an...
Wed, March 22, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT
Join us for a CSSJ Lunch Talk with Matthew Wyman-McCarthy, titled, “Constructing the Colonial “Other”: British Depictions of West Indian Slave Owners.”
This talk examines how debates about slavery and abolition intersected with efforts by the British state to consolidate authority over its increasingly global empire. It looks at how many abolitionists saw reforming the Atlantic slave system as a way of not only making empire more moral, but also of reigning in the customary political and legal autonomy of colonists. From their perspective, West Indian slave owners interpreted efforts to regulate slaveholding and slave trading as further evidence of the British government’s growing authoritarianism. By placing slavery at the heart of the conflict between metropolitan sovereignty and colonial rights, this research shows how reforming the institution was part of a wider reimagining of the British Empire during the age of revolutions.
Matthew Wyman-McCarthy completed his PhD from McGill University in 2015, and is now a postdoctoral fellow in the department of history at Columbia University. His current book project is entitled “Rethinking Global Empire: The Imperial Origins and Legacies of British Abolitionism, 1783-1807.” This research explores how the early antislavery movement built on contemporaneous calls for reform that were circulating in relation to other imperial concerns, most notably the governance of British India. Matthew has also begun work on a second project on slave owners who migrated from the West Indies to Britain during the era of abolition and emancipation. He has published in Slavery & Abolition, and was the assistant editor of the Journal of British Studies from 2012 to 2015. Matthew teaches courses in modern Britain, Atlantic history, and the age of revolution.