Last updated on 3/31/2016 Print this page
Major grant awarded for anti-slavery research
Researchers at the University of Hull have secured more than
£1.5 million to help the movement against modern-day slavery learn
from the successes and failures of the past.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a
major new grant to a research collaboration involving Professors
Kevin Bales and John Oldfield from the Wilberforce Institute for
the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE). The
grant will support research to bring into the present important
lessons from anti-slavery movements of the past, translating them
into effective tools to help combat forced labour today.
Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the University
of Hull, who is leading the project, said: “There are approximately
30 million slaves alive across the world, and a figure seven times
greater than the population of Ireland. It also includes around 1.1
million people enslaved in Europe.
“Many of us tend to think that slavery was brought to an end,
and this confusion extends beyond the general public to
politicians, policy makers and human rights groups. This inevitably
has an impact on official responses to the slavery or human
trafficking cases that are uncovered today.
“The aim of this work is try and prevent the new global
anti-slavery movement making the same mistakes of the past, and we
believe one of the best ways to do this is to listen to voices of
survivors of slavery.”
The grant is one of three large awards announced by the AHRC
under their ‘Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the
Past’ theme, which aims to generate new understandings of the
relationship between the past and the future. Each of the three
successful projects are highly collaborative. The University of
Hull will be working closely with Professor Zoe Trodd at the
University of Nottingham and Professor Jean Allain at Queen’s
University Belfast, along with a number of other international
partner organisations including Walk Free, Free the Slaves and
The result of the project will be a whole body of work including
books, digital archives, an exhibition, online educational
resources, conferences and seminars.
Prof Bales continues: “We hope to have a real impact on lawyers
and judges, who require a legal definition of slavery, and we will
also offer training for anti-slavery workers on how to learn from
the past when it comes to developing effective liberation and
social reintegration programmes for enslaved people.
“Ending slavery is a mammoth task, but by learning the lessons
of past anti-slavery movements, it’s something that can be achieved
within our lifetimes.”
The grant will run for five years and will support three PhD
students and two post-doctoral researchers across the three Higher