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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion


Good Intentions: Slavery, Abolition, and Inequality in the Modern World

Keynote Speaker: Dr Bronwen Everill 

Centre of African Studies; PhD King's College London; MSt Oxford; AB Harvard

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Since the end of the slave trade, misunderstandings about Africa have played a regular role in the shaping of ideas about how economies should function, what the role of the economy in society is, how governments could intervene in the economy, and what makes people work. Intervening in Africa’s economies to end the slave trade created a cascade of further interventions as humanitarians, policy experts, and business leaders tried to “fix” the problems they encountered.

Africa became a site of repeated economic experimentation. This lecture will explore how ideas about Africa’s economic development reflected misunderstandings about Africa, but also about the Global North's own economic development. How are we measuring wealth and poverty? What are the goal posts for success? Is development a process or a goal? What assumptions about how the economy works, or should work, are we making in answering those questions?

Dr Bronwen Everill is the Director of the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge and the Convenor of the Consortium for the Global South. She is the Class of 1973 Lecturer in History at Gonville & Caius College. Her first book was Abolition and Empire in Sierra Leone and Liberia (2013) and she has also edited The History and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention and Aid in Africa (2013).

In 2013 she was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to work on her second book, Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition, which was published by Harvard University Press in 2020. Bronwen has appeared on the BBC's In Our Time and Today Programme to discuss the history of slavery, abolition, and capitalism, and she is a regular contributor to Foreign Policy magazine. Her next book, Good Intentions, on which this lecture is based, will be published by William Collins next year. 

Monday, 30 October, 2023 - 17:30 to 18:30
Event location: 
Quarry Whitehouse Auditorium, Selwyn College, Grange Road