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Jake Christopher Richards

Department: History

Supervisor: Dr Sujit Sivasundaram

College: Gonville and Caius

AHRC Subject Area: A – History, Thought and Systems of Belief


My PhD research examines the history the transition from slavery to emancipation and free labour in the period c. 1838-1870. I am interested in how "liberated Africans" contributed to, and were shaped by, that transition in Cape Town (South Africa), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Rio de Janeiro and Salvador (Brazil). Liberated Africans were slaves who were freed when anti-slave-trade naval operations intercepted slave ships. Mixed-commission and vice-admiralty courts condemned these slave ships and helped to organize the settlement of liberated Africans in various port cities. My research investigates the political and legal challenges caused by these former slaves. What were their prospects for settling in each of these places? What claims could liberated Africans make on or against the state? How were their socio-political lives similar to or different from other labourers, including slaves, freedpeople and indentured labourers? By answering these questions, I seek to write a history of the nineteenth-century Atlantic world.

Other academic interests

Theories of global history, such as networks and conjunctures.
The non-discursive history of emotions, particularly of shame (and its value in propelling political change).