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June 2021

Colonial Connections: North East Scotland’s Colonial Past, 1700-1840. 

Worldwide protests and demonstrations triggered by collective outrage with the violent public killings of black people in the United States have created spaces for conversations about racism and discrimination much more widely. 

In Scotland, the history of slavery, colonialism and racism is part of this discussion, with calls for significant changes in practice having become particularly powerful as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests. Those conversations also demand a reflection of how Scotland’s legacy in colonial projects during the 18th and 19th centuries are tied to current perceptions (and ignorance) of the full scale of the nation’s involvement in the settlement, managing, supply, financing, soldiering and enforcement of a growing empire. Glasgow has joined Liverpool and Bristol in acknowledging its ties to the Transatlantic Slave Trade; other places like the North East of Scotland have only begun to be engaged with it through public discourse. The Scottish Government’s recently announced ‘Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums: Addressing Our Colonial Legacy’ project signals an opportunity for an honest conversation on the national level, but will this meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to ‘ensure people in Scotland are aware of the role Scotland played (in the empire) and how that manifests itself in our society today’?

The unexplored legacies of colonialism left by individuals and groups from the North East of Scotland in the Caribbean, North America, South Asia, and Africa are manifest in the present through acts of historical erasure, structural racism, institutional racism and inequality. These legacies have sparked a range of responses throughout the region such as political and community organising, activism and creative production. Rigorous historical enquiry that lays the groundwork for the development of cultural and educational policy is another.

With support from the University of Aberdeen Museums and Special Collections and The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, this one-day virtual conference seeks to explore how individuals from the North East of Scotland participated in Britain’s growing empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. We invite participants interested in the many settlers, soldiers, planters, magistrates, pirates and missionaries from the regions of Scotland’s North East that now constitute Aberdeenshire, Moray and Angus. We welcome presentations from scholars and anyone carrying out research into colonial connections to the North East of Scotland.

This online conference will take place on 18 June 2021. Please send an abstract of 200-300 words for a 20-minute presentation (.doc, .pdf or .rtf format) to NEScColonialConference[at]gmail.com by 31 January 2021. Invited speakers will be notified by 1 March. Please also send a brief biography with contact details and interests.


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