Repeating Islands

Freedom

Today the much-anticipated records that detail just how much the trade in humans benefited the UK will be made public, Catherine Hall reports for London’s Guardian.

Forgetting the violence, pain and shame that is an inevitable part of any country’s historical record is a critical aspect of a nation’s history. This disavowal of the past is an active process: forgetting Mau Mau, for example, and the brutality of the British response to it was done deliberately by occluding the archival record; it was only revealed by the patient work of determined survivors and dedicated historians.

Forgetting Britain’s role in the slave trade began as soon as the trade was abolished in 1807. The abolitionist Thomas Clarkson‘s celebrated history of the campaign to end slavery focused on the work of white humanitarian men and their role in building a successful movement. He neglected not only the activism of…

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