New exhibition by Balliol Library

Wednesday 15 September 2021
Slavery in the Age of Revolution exhibition catalogue cover showing title of exhibition of image of paper art illustrating slaves

The exhibition shows the significance of transatlantic slavery in public life in the 18th century – including some of Balliol’s own associations with it. Informed by the work of Professor Marisa Fuentes (Oliver Smithies Visiting Fellow at Balliol 20192020), it foregrounds the voices of enslaved people and narratives of resistance to transatlantic slavery, especially that in Saint Domingue (now Haiti) led by Toussaint Louverture, the subject of a biography by Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh (CUF Lecturer in Politics and Tutorial Fellow in Politics). It also explores how transatlantic slavery was viewed by people in Europe, such as the opposition reflected in the poetry of Robert Southey (Balliol 1792), as explained by Professor Seamus Perry (Massey Fellow and Tutor in English). 

The associated Teaching the Transatlantic Slave Trade Project will bring together 18 teachers from schools in the UK and the USA at four online seminars, starting at the end of September. Supported by the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, which is providing academic expertise and resources, the project aims to increase awareness of the importance of the transatlantic slave trade and its lasting impact on society; to look at the strategies of resistance by the enslaved and explore the cultural influences that inspired resistance; and to increase the confidence of teachers to teach the transatlantic slave trade at all key stages in schools. The project has been facilitated by Honorary Fellow Oliver Franklin (Balliol 1967), who is based in Philadelphia.

The 50-minute video below, produced to coincide with the exhibition and to serve as a discussion tool for the associated teachers’ project, narrates the story of the transatlantic slave trade through interviews with the exhibition’s co-curators alongside some of the exhibits. The video also includes interviews with the Master and a member of Balliol’s Black and Minority Ethnic Society about what the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and the racial injustices associated with it mean for members of the College today. The exhibition catalogue is below. The exhibition and film are part of the ongoing Balliol and Empire project.

Updated January 2022: the exhibition is now closed.