University joins global consortium of Universities Studying Slavery

University joins global consortium of Universities Studying Slavery

The University of Aberdeen has joined a global consortium of Universities Studying Slavery (USS).

Founded in 2016, USS includes educational institutes around the world which have committed to wrestling with connections to slavery in their institution’s past and to confronting post-emancipation racism.

Those joining the consortium have or hope to have active research agendas addressing their specific relationships to slavery.

In 2020 the University of Aberdeen appointed Dr Richard Anderson, a historian of Africa and the African Diaspora whose work focuses on the connections between abolition and imperialism in West Africa, to research University connections to slavery.

Dr Anderson is examining the legacy of historic slavery to the University of Aberdeen within the context of the broader region, including the city of Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland. He will explore and contextualise the financial legacy of slavery to the University and identify whether any endowments which the University of Aberdeen has received can be traced to wealth resulting from historic slavery. A Legacy of Slavery Advisory Group has been established to oversee this research

Dr Anderson said: “The Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium, created and led by the University of Virginia, represents a multi-institutional collaboration focused in sharing best practices and guiding principles about truth-telling projects addressing human bondage and racism in institutional histories.

“This aligns to my own work at the University of Aberdeen and I am delighted that the institution is now a member of USS, working with other partners to collaborate on research and learn from one another.

“USS is an important network bringing organisations from across the world together to address the complicated legacies of slavery in the modern world.”

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Senior Race Champion, co-convener of the University’s Race Equality Strategy Group and lead for the Legacy of Slavery Advisory Group, said: “We are pleased to accept the invitation to join Universities Studying Slavery (USS).

“Commitment to antiracism is integral to our Aberdeen 2040 strategy and its Inclusive theme, currently being steered by the Race Equality Strategy Group (RESG). 

“Listening on race issues is vital and we are aware that there is much more to be done.”

Professor Ruth Taylor, co-convener of the University’s Race Equality Strategy Group, added: “Joining the USS consortium will enable us to build on the constructive conversations on decolonisation of the curriculum and launching our Antiracism Strategy, and we look forward to hearing others share their own experiences and best practice.”

The USS hosts semi-annual meetings to discuss strategies and share research. Member institutions are required to commit to sending a representative or representatives to each of the two-yearly meetings. Currently, the organisation has no dues or fees and does not engage in lobbying or policy advocacy.

Further details of Universities Studying Slavery (USS) and the consortium’s work and membership can be found at Universities Studying Slavery (virginia.edu)

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