Screenshot of the Antislavery Usable Past web archive

February 15, 2018, by Erin Snyder

Digital Arts: Antislavery Usable Past

A View from the Arts is running a series on digital projects in the Faculty of Arts, in advance of the Digital Research Week, which will run from 23rd to 27th of April, 2018.

This is a guest post by Zoe Trodd.


Antislavery Usable Past is the first archive of contemporary antislavery, collecting the visual culture and narratives of the movement to end contemporary global slavery, and the memory projects that recall past antislavery campaigns. It includes the world’s first ever collection of antislavery murals, created by Hannah Jeffery (University of Nottingham PhD student), showing that these artworks have long been protest tools that tell forgotten antislavery stories for the purpose of galvanizing community activism.

The archive also holds the world’s first extensive collection of contemporary slave narratives, showing that now, as in the 19th century, the slave narrative is at the centre of abolitionism. More effectively than any other abolitionist writing in the 19th century, slave narratives detailed the brutality of slave life and highlighted the heroism of people who made their escape from bondage. Today, formerly enslaved people make themselves subjects of a story instead of objects for sale, and use narrative as a tool for ending slavery.

Four other collections in the archive will launch in 2017 and 2018. The archive is one of the outputs for the AHRC-funded Antislavery Usable Past project (£1.8m, 2014-19), led by the University of Nottingham (PI Kevin Bales, CI Zoe Trodd) with the University of Hull (CI John Oldfield).

Posted in Digital Arts