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The Identity Lever

In a host of countries, race and religion remain cultural weapons for enslavement. Perceived differences form a dividing line between slave and free. Beyond the popular idea that contemporary slavery is colour-blind—unlike trans-Atlantic chattel slavery—is the reality that economic and social marginalisation along lines of race, ethnicity or religion makes people vulnerable to slave traders. Yet to date, no one has explored this slavery lever in any depth.We are therefore completing an extensive examination of the relationship between contemporary slavery and social identities. We uncover how intersecting identities are appropriated to construct, legitimise, and perpetuate enslavement, but also how the same identities are mobilised to contest and resist. We aim to understand when marginalisation along identity lines is creating social exclusions and economic vulnerabilities; when it is shaping ritual slavery as part of deeply embedded cultural practise; and when it is simply a convenient weapon for slaveholders who are adept at applying ideologies. With this understanding, we can then understand how religious practice and racial identity can better play a role in the liberation and rehabilitation of enslaved persons.

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Elena Abrusci

My research focuses on the issue of convergence and judicial fragmentation within International Human Rights Law.

The proliferation of regional and international human rights instruments and bodies, the lack of a clear hierarchy among sources and bodies and the wide margin of interpretation left to judicial and quasi-judicial bodies contribute to establish a fertile ground for the arising of contrasting judgments from the adjudicatory bodies, thus determining judicial fragmentation.


Scott Weightman

The growing potency of the black Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the decline in support for racial theories and the increasing nationalisation of American life, represented a salient threat to the culture of white supremacy in the southern states. In this transformative context, how did segregationists seek to reignite support for segregation and appeal to a broader national audience? What strategies did they pursue, and what impact did they have?


Hannah Jeffery

“The Black Power movement represents a largely unchronicled epic in American history,” argues historian Peniel E. Joseph in his article “Rethinking the Black Power Era. This academic oversight catalysed a wave of Black Power studies in the 2000s, with scholars like Joseph and Paul Gardullo altering perceptions of the movement by expanding it from the parameters of the 1960s. This scholarship reconsiders the temporal, chronological and spatial frameworks that define the era, and my PhD will join this repertoire of Black Power scholarship by proposing the existence of a Long Black Power Movement.


Professor Zoe Trodd

Zoe Trodd is a Professor in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, founding co-director of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, and co-director of the university's research priority area in Rights and Justice. Her focus is the history, literature and visual culture of protest movements, especially antislavery.

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Ibtisam Ahmed

Political utopianism looks at the engagement with contemporary socio-political debates in order to come up with solutions and changes in the pursuit of a new way of life. The British Empire, with its ideological focus of the “good life” and the “civilising project”, can arguably be called a conscious attempt at utopia. In this thesis, I examine the ways in which the British Raj influenced language, culture, wealth, technology, gender and sexuality, and religion using critical utopian theory, queer theory, and postcolonialism in attempt to rethink the mainstream narratives of Empire and its legacies.


Hannah-Rose Murray

My thesis analyses the legacy of formerly enslaved African Americans on British society and the myriad ways they resisted British racism. Individuals such as Frederick Douglass, Moses Roper, William and Ellen Craft, Henry ‘Box’ Brown and Josiah Henson used a variety of different performative techniques to counter racial stereotypes that people of African descent were inferior. They exploited abolitionist networks and the emerging industrialism in British society to travel thousands of miles and give hundreds of lectures