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New Book Explores Slavery and Colonialism in Sierra Leone

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A book exploring slavery and colonialism in Sierra Leone has been published by a Worcester academic.

Professor Suzanne Schwarz’s latest book, Slavery, Abolition and the Transition to Colonialism in Sierra Leone, co-edited with Professor Paul Lovejoy, was launched at the 57th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Indianapolis, Indiana, last month.

The book draws together the research of leading scholars on Sierra Leone and examines the importance of the colony as a site of British abolitionist intervention in West Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. It analyses the development of the colony as a multi-ethnic settlement on the upper Guinea coast, and the repercussions of British colonial intervention from the late eighteenth century onwards.

Albert Moore, Senior Government Archivist at the Sierra Leone Public Archives, said the book would “help in evaluating Sierra Leone’s past and present for purposes of socio-economic development.” Professor Robin Law, Emeritus Professor of African History at the University of Stirling, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Liverpool, said the book was “of particular value in relation to understanding issues relating to the slave trade, the institution of slavery, the movement for their abolition, and the development of European imperialism in Africa”.

The book was launched during a celebration to mark the publication of the 25th volume in Professor Lovejoy’s Harriet Tubman Series by Africa World Press.

Professor Schwarz and Professor Lovejoy are also leading a project to digitise rare and endangered documents in the Sierra Leone Public Archives in Freetown. This work, undertaken as part of the British Library Endangered Archives Programme, is important in preserving the Country’s unique archival heritage.

In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), more than 50% of research in History at the University of Worcester was found to be world-leading or internationally excellent. The submission included Professor Schwarz's research in Sierra Leone.