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History of Slavery in the British Caribbean

Explore the history and legacy of British colonial slavery and oppression in the Caribbean through historical slave accounts.

14,242 enrolled on this course

History of Slavery in the British Caribbean

14,242 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn about Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade

On this course, you’ll be introduced to the history of slavery and the lived experiences of enslaved people in the British Caribbean.

Explore the link between global racial civil unrest and colonial and post-colonial processes

Against a backdrop of global protests and civil unrest due to racial inequities in our contemporary society, this course offers the opportunity to explore how these inequalities are related to historical colonial processes.

Starting with the context of life, culture, and economy of West Africa, you’ll follow enslaved people through their forced migration to the islands of the Caribbean and the life they found there.

Discover the lives of enslaved people in British colonies in the Caribbean

The course will teach you how enslaved people lived in the Caribbean and what methods were used to control their way of life and oppress enslaved people.

As you interpret different types of historical evidence of slavery through written and visual material, you’ll learn how enslaved people resisted slavery in small, everyday ways, as well as through armed rebellion and revolution.

You’ll also examine the context and events that led to the end of slavery, as well as the labour systems devised to replace it.

Consider the ongoing legacies of British slavery

Led by leading academics from the University of Glasgow, you’ll benefit from a wide range of expertise on the history, archaeology and legacies of slavery.

By the end of the course, you’ll better understand the contemporary legacies of slavery in the modern world and be equipped with the skills to investigate slavery’s legacies in your local area.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds PEGGY BRUNACHE: For over 300 years, British people were involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Caribbean and Americas. British ships made over 11,000 journeys that we know of, forcibly transporting almost three million men, women, and children to slavery. I’m Dr. Peggy Brunache, historian and archaeologist of Atlantic slavery. In this course, my colleague, Dr. Christine White, a historian of West Africa, alongside experts from the University of the West Indies and myself will look at the history of slavery in the British Caribbean. Over four weeks, this course will introduce students to the origins of racialised slavery and its legacies that still plague Britain as a society today.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds On this educational journey, we begin in West Africa and learn just how and why Britain became involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. From there, we head to the Caribbean to find out how island life in places like Jamaica and Barbados gave rise to a Caribbean creole society of white colonials and slave labourers and a class of subjects who were neither of those. During our exploration of colonial life, we’ll explore how the slave-based labour system made many individuals– and by extension, the nation– rich while simultaneously worked to brutalise and dehumanise enslaved Africans.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds As the enslaved Africans made up the vast majority of colonial subjects, we’ll uncover the rich and dynamic culture and the ways they resisted against slaveholders and the system itself. From open rebellion to running away to subtle strategies like breaking farming tools and working slower, the enslaved struggled against the oppression throughout the centuries. Join us for this thought-provoking study, which concludes with slavery, abolition, post-emancipation experiences, and considers the long term effects of slavery on Britain.

What topics will you cover?

  • Trafficking in enslaved people in the transatlantic trade.
  • The culture and lifestyle of enslaved people.
  • How enslaved people resisted enslavement.
  • What methods were used to control and oppress enslaved people in the Caribbean.
  • What happened in the Caribbean when slavery was outlawed.
  • How to explore the contemporary legacies of slavery in the modern world.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Learners will be able to explain how slavery was organised in the British Caribbean.
  • They will be able to describe the lifestyles of enslaved people.
  • They will be able to interpret different types of historical evidence of slavery: written, visual and material.
  • They will be able to debate the relative importance of different factors in bringing slavery to a legal end.
  • Learners will be equipped to investigate slavery’s legacies in their local area.

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone interested in learning more the Black experience during British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

The inclusion of slavery’s legacy centres on the racial inequities in our contemporary society will also be useful for heritage, third-sector, educational and media workers who wish to engage in conversations around current global racialised civil unrest and how they are linked to colonial and post-colonial processes.

Who will you learn with?

Dr. Peggy Brunache is a historical archaeologist. She is lecturer in the history of Atlantic Slavery and the Director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies at the University of Glasgow.

I am a historian of West Africa, specifically focused on education, family and children's history.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

The University of the West Indies

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is the Caribbean’s premier, higher education institution. One of only two regional universities in the world, it comprises five campuses across the English-speaking Caribbean and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The UWI stands among the top 1.5% of universities globally, following Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022.

  • Established

  • Location

    The West Indies

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$99/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 13 Aug 2024

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