Britain’s Forgotten Slave-Owners

29 07 2015

The BBC recently broadcast a two-part documentary called Britain’s forgotten slave-owners, which is based on a research project at UCL that involved making a statistical portrait of the slaveholders who received compensation when slavery was abolished in 1834. The shows producers have  taken the admirable decision to put the entire documentary online, which means that people outside of the UK, including people in the countries most affected by the Atlantic slave trade, can watch it

The terminology used in the documentary is very much a product of our times. For instance, the compensation payments given to slaveowners are frequently referred to as “bailouts” and many of the scenes are shot in London’s financial district.  The documentary stresses the linkages between slavery and modern capitalism. This aspect of the documentary has generated considerable debate in the media was denounced by sociologist Frank Furedi.

It is interesting to see how the social memory of slavery is being used by various ideological movements for present-day purposes. History, as always, is being used.

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