Author Archives: chw25

Congratulations John!

Photograph of a young Paul Kagame in army camoflage.

Paul Kagame, leader of the RPF and current Rwandan President.

John Kegel was awarded an AHRC-CHASE scholarship for his doctoral research on the Rwandan civil war (1990-1994). John’s research will look at the crucial, yet neglected, immediate antecedents of the Rwandan genocide. John graduated from Kent University with a BA in War Studies in 2014, and broadened his scholarly work at SOAS, where his MA dissertation was supervised by William Gervase Clarence-Smith, before returning to Kent for his PhD studies.

Freedom Without Equality: Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World

On Thursday 10th March 2016 the Centre will welcome Dr Matthew S. Hopper (Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge) to present an occasional seminar on ‘Freedom Without Equality: Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World‘.

The seminar will take place at 4.30pm in Rutherford Seminar Room 15 on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus. Attendance is free and open to all.



Matthew S. Hopper

Matthew S. Hopper is the Smuts Visiting Research Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge and is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. His book, Slaves of One Master: Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire, was published by Yale University Press in 2015. He received his Ph.D. in History from UCLA (2006) and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University (2009) and a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ (2015). He has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and Fulbright-Hays, and his writing has recently been published in Annales, Itinerario, and the Journal of African Development. His new book project is tentatively titled, Free But Not Equal: Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World.


Between 1858 and 1896 more than 11,000 Africans were apprehended aboard suspected slave vessels in the Western Indian Ocean and relocated to seven port cities between Bombay and Cape Town. Although ending the East African slave trade became Europe’s cause célèbre in the second half of the nineteenth century and freed slaves provided symbolic justification for imperialism, the question of “disposing” (the unfortunate term used by colonial administrators) of freed slaves presented a persistent problem for officials who were equally wary of releasing survivors where they might be re-enslaved as they were of paying for their upkeep. Liberated Africans were therefore assigned to labor aboard ships, in harbors, or on mission plantations, where they were expected to learn the value of their freedom and the ethic of hard work through contractual labor.HopperSeminar

Freed slaves, like their enslaved counterparts, were renamed, re-clothed, converted to foreign religions, taught new languages and placed into arranged marriages. Many also labored to produce cash crops for export to global markets. Drawing on missionary, naval, and colonial records, this paper demonstrates how the perceived failure of Caribbean emancipation, the emergence of scientific racism, and a growing sentiment that certain groups were not suited for freedom guided official treatment of liberated Africans by at midcentury. Thrust from slavery into colonial coercion and contract, liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean world exposed a central tension of mid-Victorian liberalism: the growing divergence between ideals of freedom and equality.

The Gun in Central Africa

Small man with a big gunGiacomo Macola’s monograph, The Gun in Central Africa is now available to pre-order with a 30% discount on regular prices.

Informed by the view that the power of objects extends beyond their immediate service functions, The Gun in Central Africa presents Africans as agents of technological re-innovation who understood guns in terms of their changing social structures and political interests.

By placing firearms at the heart of the analysis, this volume casts new light on processes of state formation and military revolution in the era of the long-distance trade, the workings of central African gender identities and honor cultures, and the politics of the colonial encounter.

Centre PhD Student publication launch

University of Mauritius Invitation to the launch of ‘Evading Enslavement in the Seychelles’ by Peter Nicholls

Peter Nicholls, a PhD student associated with the centre, recently delivered a public address at the University of Mauritius as part of an event celebrating the publication of his Masters’ thesis. ‘Evading Enslavement in the Seychelles’ uncovers a vital piece of the history of resistance to slavery in the Indian Ocean. The booklet has been printed in both English and French and demand has already exceed supply!

The event was covered in detail by a local online magazine: HISTOIRE: À lire en marge du 1er février (article text in French).

Leverhume Early Career Fellowships

The University of Kent School of History is currently welcoming applications for the Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow scheme. The Centre for the History of Colonialisms has previously been very successful in this funding scheme — there are currently two Leverhulme ECRs associated with the centre. If you have a project related to colonialism and would like to apply, please check the advert or get in touch with any of the centre staff.

AHA Panel in Atlanta

Christine Whyte organised a panel on childhood in 19th century Sierra Leone at the 130th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association on the 8th of January, 2016.The panel focused on the experiences of children as pupils, apprentices and domestic servants in the Colony of Sierra Leone from 1806 until the 1860s.

Panel details

“An Upright and Faithful Boy”: Children of the Elite and Children Removed from Slavery within the CMS Mission Schools, 1806–16 Katrina Keefer, York University

Emancipation and Indenture in Colonial Sierra Leone  Richard Anderson, York University

Fostering Subjects: Lives and Labour of Fostered African Children in the Sierra Leone Crown Colony Christine Whyte, University of Kent

Comment: Colleen Vasconcellos, University of West Georgia

Book launch by Birmingham University Authors

Three members of the University of Birmingham’s Department of African Studies and Anthropology will be discussing their recently published monographs at the London Review of Books bookshop in Bloomsbury at 7pm on 15 January 2016.

  • Maxim Bolt’s Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence
  • Benedetta Rossi’s From Slavery to Aid: Politics, Labour, and Ecology in the Nigerien Sahel, 1800-2000
  • Kate Skinner’s The Fruits of Freedom in British Togoland: Literacy, Politics and Nationalism, 1914-2014

Free tickets for this event are available from Eventbrite.

NEW MA in Imperial History

Screenshot 2015-12-09 17.15.00

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new Master’s programme in Imperial History here at the University of Kent.

This brand new programme examines key themes and regions in the making of world history from the 18th century to the present day.

Imperial history is a rapidly growing and innovative field of historical research, which offers you the opportunity to explore the origins, workings and legacies of empires. By critically engaging with a range of theoretical and empirical literatures, as well as conducting original research, you use historical data to tackle momentous questions relating to violence, development and global inequality.

Led by five specialists in the School of History, the programme takes a broad interdisciplinary approach which also encompasses renowned academics from other departments. The team offers particular expertise in African political history, the history of military technology and conflict, global histories of religion and the newly-emerging field of children and childhoods. You also have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the Centre for the History of Colonialisms.

This programme offers an ideal launching pad for students who envisage careers with an international dimension or plan to embark on doctoral work.

Two bursaries to cover full-time tuition fees at the home/EU rate will be made available on a competitive basis. Details about funding opportunities will be posted on the School of History website here in due course. For further information and informal enquiries, prospective applicants should contact either the MA convenor, Dr. Giacomo Macola ( or Faye Beesley, the School of History’s Postgraduate Co-ordinator (