The University of Cambridge has set up an inquiry to establish how it benefited from and contributed to the slave trade and forced Labour.
In an attempt to “acknowledge its role during that dark phase of human history”, the two-year investigation will seek to uncover the ways the institution profited from slavery and forced labour during the colonial era through donations, gifts and bequests.
It will also look at the extent to which Cambridge scholars promoted race-based attitudes which helped shape public and political opinion. Two post-doctoral researchers are to conduct the investigation, looking at university records and archives.
Oxford is just one of the institutions to announce in recent times its intention to look at links to slavery. In 2017, Yale renamed Calhoun College to instead honour Grace Murray Hopper, who helped transform people’s use of technology. John Calhoun was a former US vice president and known slavery advocate.
Yale president Peter Salovey said at the time: “The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values.”
Estimates vary, but somewhere between 10 million and 28 million Africans are believed to have been shipped across the Atlantic between the 15th and 19th centuries.
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