Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain


Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 12:00pm


Virtual (registration required)

The Center for History and Economics invites you to mark the publication of Padraic X. Scanlan’s new book, Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain.

Please join us for a virtual discussion with the author, chaired by Vincent Brown (Harvard University).

Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 12:00pm EDT / 17:00 GMT

Please register online here.


The British Empire, in sentimental myth, was more just and more fair than its rivals. And yet, the "British liberty" the empire promised to its subjects was built with enslaved labor in the colonies. 

Slave Empire is a history of how British imperial political economy—as well as ideas of “freedom” and free labor—were shaped by mass enslavement, especially in the Caribbean. The book also shows how the leaders of the British antislavery movement helped transform an eighteenth-century empire of brutal exploitation into a Victorian empire committed to "civilization”—a justification for exploitation in its own right, but also an ideal of social relations, a model of economic development, a set of moving goalposts, and ultimately a weapon.

Padraic Scanlan (@pxscanlan) is Assistant Professor in the Center for Industrial Relations and Human Resources and the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto.