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Closing of the Slave Trades: Transatlantic Perspectives, An International Symposium

Thursday, May 29-Saturday, May 31, 2008
Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland


Jean Allain

Jean Allain is a generalist in public international law with a specialisation in human rights and an expertise in issues of slavery and trafficking. His most recent book is The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Préparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention, Martinus Nijhoff, 2008. In 2007, Dr. Allain chaired the Drafting Committee of the Declaration on Slavery, Pan-Africanism and Human Rights in Africa and was invited to give a guest lecture on the definition of slavery in international law to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Dr. Allain teaches public international law in the School of Law, Queen’s University of Belfast, where he was appointed in 2004. He completed his studies at HEI – the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales – the Graduate Institute for International Studies of the University of Geneva in 2000. His dissertation was published as A Century of International Adjudication: the Rule of Law and its Limits. He wrote his Master’s thesis at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in San José, Costa Rica, as a Fellow of the Organization of American States. While undertaking graduate studies in Geneva, he spent six months in The Hague at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where he clerked for the President of the Tribunal. From 1998 to 2004, Dr. Allain taught at the American University in Cairo where he produced International Law in the Middle East: Closer to Power than Justice.

Richard Benjamin

Richard gained a degree in Community and Race Relations at Edge Hill College and then went on to complete an MA and PhD in Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. He was a visiting research scholar at the WEB DuBois Institute of African and African American Research, Harvard University in 2002 and was appointed as Head of the International Slavery Museum in 2006.

Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards studied history at Aberystwyth and Leicester Universities in the UK. After gaining a Masters in 1989 in Museum Studies at Leicester University, she moved to the north east of England where she lives with her husband, son and daughter.

She worked at Woodhorn Colliery Museum in Ashington, Northumberland for six years. In 1995 she moved to Tyne and Wear Museums, a federation of eleven museums, where she has held a variety of positions within the History Team. She now leads the team of fifteen curators as Senior Keeper of History and is also Deputy Curator of Discovery Museum in Newcastle, where she is based. She led Tyne and Wear Museums’ highly successful Remembering Slavery programme for the 2007 bicentenary.

Between 2003 and 2006 Hazel worked as a freelance consultant on various projects within the north east cultural sector. She is also interested in workforce development and is a professional development mentor for the UK Museums Association.

David Eltis

David Eltis is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory University. He has a Ph.D from the University of Rochester (1979). His research interests are the early modern Atlantic World, slavery, and migration - both coerced and free. He is the author of Economic Growth and The Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York, Oxford Univ. Press, 1987), which won the British Trevor Reese Memorial Prize, and The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2000), awarded the Frederick Douglass Prize, the John Ben Snow Prize, and the Wesley-Logan Prize. Most recently, he is editor and contributor to Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (New Haven, 2008), editor and co-contributor of Slavery in the Development of the Americas (Cambridge, 2004), Coerced and Free Migration: Global Perspectives (Stanford University Press, 2002), and co-editor and contributor to a special issue of the William and Mary Quarterly (2001). He is also co-creator of www.slavevoyages.org, an updated version of The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-ROM (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). He is currently at work on an analysis of the identity of captive Africans put on board slave ships, and is co-editing the Cambridge World History of Slavery.

Cheryl Finley

Cheryl Finley is an Assistant Professor in the History of Art Department at Cornell University as well as an art critic, columnist and curator specializing in photography, African American art, and the politics of memorialization. She is the author of many books, articles and essays, including Harlem Guaranteed: The Photographic Legacy of James VanDerZee (2002). Dr. Finley is the co-founder with Dr. Laura Wexler of Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale University in 1998, where she also received her Ph.D. in the Departments of African American Studies and History of Art in 2002. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. Dr. Finley is completing a manuscript on the cultural memory of the slave ship icon as well as a monograph on the artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons.

Richard Huzzey

Richard Huzzey is researching his doctorate at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, where he is Light Senior Scholar. Work on his thesis, ‘“A Nation of Abolitionists”? The politics and culture of anti-slavery Britain, c.1833-73’, has been assisted by a fellowship from the Gilder Lehrman Institute. He obtained his first and master’s degrees in History at St. Anne's College, Oxford, in 2004 and 2005.

His research presents Britain as an 'anti-slavery nation', and explores the strength of that identity in the state, politics and popular culture of the period. Richard argues that there was an anti-slavery hegemony in British culture and politics after 1833, but one obscured by the wide variety of approaches and strategies proposed in tackling slavery and the slave trade overseas. In particular, he argues that the anti-slavery of early Victorian free traders has been overlooked. The thesis has interested him in the intersection of economic and moral thought; of how contemporaries differed on whether moral outcomes were secured through active, painful sacrifice or the passivity of laissez-faire.

Tony Phillips

History has dominated much of Tony Phillips’ radio documentary work : the Belly of the Beast (1996), the journey of a young black Liverpudlian to West Africa;  An American Slave: Frederick Douglass (1996); Selling Malcolm X (2005) ; Separate but Equal (2004), marking the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v Board of Education; Hope in Oklahoma (1999), accompanying the eminent American historian Professor John Hope Franklin to his birthplace, Rentiesville, Oklahoma; and early in 2008, Freedom Song, a portrait of Marion Anderson and her famous concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

He launched a number of high-profile radio series including the location-based history series The Long View. He series produced the BBC Reith Lectures with Lord Broers (2005) and pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim (2006).

In 2007 he produced Trade Roots for BBC Radio with journalist Michael Buerk, which charted Britain's cultural and economic links with the slave trade. The same year he produced the series Six Days that Shaped the Middle East, an assessment of the legacy of the 1967 Middle East War with Jeremy Bowen.

Tony was born in Leeds. He trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and made his television debut in Belfast in a BBC drama series. He made such an impression he enrolled at the University of East Anglia to study American Literature and American History. He joined the BBC in 1989 as a trainee producer.

Today Tony is a Senior Commissioning Editor at the English World Service.

Richard Rabinowitz

Richard Rabinowitz is one of the leading public historians in the United States, with over 40 years of experience in creating new museums and exhibitions on every aspect of American history and culture.

As founder and president since 1980 of AMERICAN HISTORY WORKSHOP, Dr. Rabinowitz has led teams of scholars, curators, educators, artists, and institutional planners in over 500 successful and innovative history programs at sites like the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati; and local and state historical agencies in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

As senior project historian for the New-York Historical Society, he curated and wrote the pathbreaking exhibitions in 2005-07 on Slavery in New York, New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War, and French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America. He is now at work on several major history projects to open at N-YHS in 2008-2012, including an international traveling exhibition on the American, French, and Haitian revolutions.

He is also chief historian and interpretive planner for a new Boston history museum, scheduled to open in 2012, and leads exhibition planning for the President’s House project at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.

Dr. Rabinowitz’s book, The Spiritual Self in Everyday Life: The Transformation of Personal Religious Experience in Nineteenth- Century New England (Northeastern University Press, 1989), has been recognized as a “subtle and thoughtful analysis of what it has meant to be religious in America.”

He began his professional career in 1967 as director of education at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. From 1977 to 1980 he served as a special assistant to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities on policy development.

Adam Rothman

Adam Rothman is an associate professor of history at Georgetown University, where he has been teaching since 2000. He grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, earned a B.A. from Yale in 1993 and a Ph.D from Columbia in 2000. He is author of Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Harvard 2005), and co-editor with Alison Games of Major Problems in Atlantic History (Houghton Mifflin 2008). Rothman specializes in the history of slavery, the United States from the Revolution to World War I, and the Atlantic World. He is currently working on a book about the history of New Orleans as a global city in the nineteenth century. He lives in Washington, DC.

James Walvin

James Walvin is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of York. He has published widely on the history of slavery and the slave trade. In 2007 he was guest curator for the Parliamentary Exhibition on abolition in Westminster Hall, and was advisor for the Equiano exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Galleries. His more recent books are A Short History of Slavery (Penguin), Britain's Slave Empire (Tempus) - both 2007, and The Trader, The Owner, The Slave, Vintage (2008.) In 2008 he was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to scholarship.

Helen Weinstein

Professor Helen Weinstein is the Director of IPUP York, the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past at the University of York. IPUP was established in 2006 to promote academic partnership projects across museums, galleries, heritage and the media. Previous to founding IPUP, Helen was a BBC Producer, & directing Research & Development teams. Her credits are multi-platform across film, tv, radio & web. For example, Helen was Producer for the analytical history series ‘Document’, which won the Sony Gold Award for best news programme of the year for the documentary ‘The Day They Made It Rain’.

As an academic, Helen’s main research interest is in narrative structures and the production and consumption of the past. Previous to IPUP, she had a senior research fellowship at Cambridge University where she conducted a public history project to investigate how media narratives shape and inform the public perception of the past. Since her appointment at the University of York, as the founding Director of IPUP, Helen has devised the research project ‘1807 Commemorated’ and set up a partnership with seven national museums marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade with major exhibitions. This IPUP project has a team of six academics and we are concerned with firstly identifying and understanding how 1807 is being marked by different agencies and communities in Britain and the consequences of this for the expression of national, local and community identity, and for the development of the range of social debates addressing multiculturalism and social inclusion; and secondly identifying the implications of this for museum exhibition development and content. For the ‘1807 Commemorated’ project, Helen is analyzing how the bicentenary has been publicly defined and characterized, with a focus on decision-making about funding and content and the shaping roles in the commemoration played by the media, by government ministers and agencies, by the church and activist groups. The website for the project is donated by the Institute for Historical Research and can be found at www.history.ac.uk/1807Commemorated

The next project at IPUP York is called ‘Race & Faith Identities’ and aims to develop networks with practitioners, policy makers and the media. If you are interested in joining the IPUP Colloquia on this subject for 2008/2009 please contact IPUP at ipup-enquiries@york.ac.uk

Zoé N. Whitley

As Curator of Contemporary Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, Zoé N. Whitley develops and manages exhibitions, commissions and special projects with living artists and designers, most recently working with El Anatsui and Romuald Hazoumé. Exhibitions to her credit include Uncomfortable Truths (2007), the first exhibition to showcase contemporary African art at the V&A. Prior to joining Contemporary in 2005, Whitley was Assistant Curator in the V&A’s Word & Image Department, focusing on contemporary prints and 20th century propaganda posters. She has lectured at Frieze Art Fair, ICA London, Camberwell College of Art, the Royal College of Art and Kingston University. Her writing has appeared in Print Quarterly and Fashion Theory as well as in catalogues for the V&A, Mode Museum Antwerp, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Whitley received her MA in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art, London, and BA (High Honors) from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. She is a Trustee of London Printworks Trust and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (FRSA). She currently holds a fellowship in the inaugural cohort of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Nic Wood

Currently Nic Wood is in his first year in the PhD program in American history at the University of Virginia. He is working with Peter Onuf, and his research focus is on the role of federalism in the expansion of slavery and the transition from the Atlantic slave trade to the domestic slave trade. Nic’s present research focuses on the Orleans territory, and the active involvement of the federal government in stabilizing the slavery regime there. Before coming to Charlottesville Nic earned a Master’s degree in American history at Rutgers University, in Camden, New Jersey. His master’s thesis, written under the supervision of Andrew Shankman, compared the development British and American bans on the Atlantic slave trade. While enrolled at Rutgers he also worked at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and for the History Hunters program in Germantown. Previous to returning to graduate school he taught high school history for a year at Monroe Township High School, in New Jersey. Nic did his undergraduate work at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and his original interest in the history of slavery dates to a class he took on slavery in world history with Christopher Brown. Nic later wrote his honors thesis under his direction, on the way Methodist missionaries in Jamaica increased public support for abolition in Britain. When not reading or researching Nic enjoys traveling, hiking, and other outdoor activities.