Scotland and Slavery: Amnesia and Denial
October 2, 2015 Leave a comment
The 3rd annual T. C. Smout lecture in Scottish History will be delivered by Professor Sir Tom Devine on Thursday 8 October at 7pm in the Arts Lecture Theatre, on the topic
‘Scotland and Slavery: Amnesia and Denial’
The T. C. Smout lecture, sponsored by the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at the University of St Andrews, was established to mark the 80th birthday of Professor Emeritus T. C. Smout, the Historiographer Royal in Scotland, and former Professor of Scottish History at the University of St Andrews. Professor Smout will offer a vote of thanks.
This year’s lecturer, Professor Sir Tom Devine, was formerly Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography in the University of Edinburgh. He previously held Chairs in Scottish History and Irish-Scottish Studies at Strathclyde and Aberdeen Universities respectively. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Fellow of the British Academy. His works on modern Scottish history have been published to great popular and critical acclaim and his distinguished record in research and teaching led to him being knighted in 2014 ‘for services to the study of Scottish history’.
Professor Devine’s most recent publication is a collection of essays – T. M. Devine (ed.), Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past (Edinburgh University Press, 2015) – arising from the international Scotland and Slavery Project. The Project reveals in great detail the full extent of the nation’s involvement at all levels of the Atlantic slave systems between the mid seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the same time it reveals a historical puzzle that Professor Devine’s lecture will try to resolve. For until the last decade or so Scottish academic history, creative literature and public discourse were virtually silent on this controversial subject. When it was occasionally broached, the assumption was that Scots had little to do with chattel slavery. That nefarious business was essentially seen to be the preserve and monopoly of the English, and especially of the ports of Bristol, Liverpool and London. The lecture will seek explanations for this amnesia and denial over the long run from the end of slavery in the British empire in 1833 to the new research of more recent times which has served to demolish the old mythologies.