Wilberforce Institute Debate:  Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition

Thursday 10th September 4 – 6pm BST

Hosted by Wilberforce Institute Director Trevor Burnard, Dr. Bronwen Everill, the Class of 1973 Lecturer in History and a fellow of Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, will be talking about her new book, ‘Not Made By Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition‘,  followed by a reply from Professor John Oldfield, Professor of History at the University of Hull and former Director of the Wilberforce Institute, and Dr. Richard Huzzey, Reader in Modern British History from Durham University.

Bronwen’s book looks at how some merchants in Britain, America and West Africa sought to use consumer power to challenge Atlantic slavery. In the process, these businesses encountered a variety of ethical dilemmas that stemmed from the cross-cultural nature of trade with West Africa, ranging from deciding what kinds of goods could be ethical, to how to detect fraud in ethical trade, to how to pay for goods ethically, to how to use government influence to shape ethical commerce policies. Firms like Macaulay & Babington and Brown & Ives promoted an influential middlebrow economic philosophy that ultimately advocated for a global division of land and labour that would be of most benefit to the ethical consumers, rather than producers. The book places the politics of antislavery firmly in the history of capitalism by linking commercial ethical decisions to larger developments in the political economy of imperialism and nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Freetown Society   has jointly organised this event for Hull. It is part of a series of events marking the 40th anniversary of civic twinning between Freetown, Sierra Leone and Hull, England.

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