Here's how Cambridge University benefited from slavery, according to new study

The study established that the university and its colleges benefited from companies, individuals, etc participating in the trade.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 06:39 PM IST
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University of Cambridge |

The University of Cambridge received significant benefits 'due to slavery', according to a new study by the Legacies of Enslavement Advisory Group, constituted in 2019 by the university's vice-chancellor, Stephen Toope.

It established that the university and its colleges benefited from companies, individuals, etc participating in the trade.

A university "as long-established as Cambridge" would inevitably have connections to slavery, according to Prof. Toope as quoted by the BBC.

How the eminent institution benefited from slavery

Researchers discovered that investors in the Royal African Company and fellows from Cambridge colleges both had connections to Cambridge and were engaged in the slave trade. Both companies were the East India Company and the Royal African Company.

According to the research, the institution also accepted gifts from shareholders of both businesses and made direct investments in the South Sea Company, another business involved in slave trafficking.

"Such financial involvement both helped to facilitate the slave trade and brought very significant financial benefits to Cambridge," the Legacies of Enslavement report stated.

Following its study, the panel came up with a list of suggestions, which the institution promised to put into practise, which includes a dedicated study centre on slavery should be established, and current academic linkages with the Caribbean and West African universities should be strengthened, according to the BBC.

Additionally, it will consider expanding the number of postgraduate scholarships and bursaries available to black students in the UK and those from Africa and the Caribbean. Additionally, it will consider commissioning a work of art to honour the accomplishments of black academics at the university.

According to Prof. Toope, slavery was a commonly recognised form of exploitation up until the 19th century.

The report, according to him, "helps us better understand the nature" of the university's connections to slavery.

It also gives a glimpse into some of the ways that the university, which provided education, contributed to the spread of some of the concepts that justified the system of enslavement, the author added.

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