VTU Review: Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Abolitionism and the Back-to-Africa Movement in Britain: The Sierra Leone Experiment

Pavlin Atanasov

Страници: -


The article focuses on the settlement of freed black slaves from England and Nova Scotia in Sierra Leone. As the eighteenth century drew to a close, plans were made for the “repatriation” of impoverished migrants of African descent to their “ancestral” land. Such plans were contextually defined by the abolitionist movement in Britain. Abolitionism gained exceptional momentum in the country that played a leading part in the transatlantic slave trade at that time. The movement aimed to end both the slave trade and slavery. The article investigates the activities of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor and especially the role of the prominent British philanthropist and abolitionist Granville Sharp (1735–1813), who made significant efforts to bring the “repatriation” plans to fruition. I argue that the Sierra Leone project was an ambivalent experiment, which should be interpreted in the light of both humanitarian compassion and imperial interests: if, at first, it was premised upon idealism and religious fervour, the desire to set foot in west Africa and to set up a colony there subsequently prevailed. For some Britons, sending impoverished free blacks to distant shores was also an opportunity to expel them from their own “white” society. In this sense, the “repatriation” of Africans was most likely to occur in the form of deportation, a form that suggests the restrictive regime of penal colonies, such as Australia.

Ключови думи:

Sierra Leone, slave trade, abolitionism, humanitarianism, Back-to-Africa movement, Granville Sharp, Province of Freedom, colonization, migration.


81 изтегляния от 30.10.2019 г.