Slaving Science: Natural Knowledge and the British Slave Trade, 1660-1807


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project is the first book-length study to examine the intersection of the history of science and the history of the British slave trade. It explores how the circulation of objects, ideas, and individuals through the networks of the slave trade engendered new scientific knowledge between 1660 and 1807. It argues that the particularities of the British slave trade shaped the knowledge produced through its networks and that scientific knowledge, in turn, influenced the development of the slave trade. To do so, this project mines scientific treatises, slaving companies' records, and correspondence to tell the stories of British slaving and science largely absent from the existing scholarship. The deeply intertwined histories of science and the slave trade reveals how issues of race, commerce, and colonialism shape science, both in the early modem world and in our own.