The University of St Andrews is supporting a research project into ‘St Andrews and the Legacies of Empire’, in recognition of the growing interest in the links between British institutions, the historic Atlantic trade in enslaved people, and today’s academic environment. Led by the School of History, the project is initially planned to run from September 2021 to September 2022.

Our project is a first step towards investigating and understanding the ways in which the University may have been involved in, or benefitted from, the slave trade, the use of enslaved or coerced labour, and colonial or imperial projects broadly conceived. Our initial focus is on the period 1697 to 1900. In the first instance, the aim is to generate a high-level survey of the number and nature of links between the University and enslavement (specifically) or empire (more generally). The results of this research will help us determine which people, periods, or geographical regions merit more detailed investigation and will provide a set of recommendations as to how this work might be focused.

The project research is being undertaken by Dr Isabel Robinson, Research Fellow in Modern History. She is being co-supervised by Professor Aileen Fyfe (School of History) and Professor Katie Stevenson (Vice-Principal for Collections), with additional expertise and guidance provided by an interdisciplinary Steering Group drawn from experts across the whole University.

Dr Robinson will submit a report to the University in summer 2022, summarising what has been uncovered to date, and making recommendations for future research and actions. This report will be published by the University.

If you would like to suggest fruitful avenues for research, or can help by telling us about relevant archives or sources of evidence, please contact Dr Robinson at ir68@st-andrews.ac.uk