Padraic X. Scanlan

Freedom's Debtors

British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution

Yale University Press 2017

New Books in African StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network December 4, 2017 Louise Moschetta

What was the British abolition of the slave trade like in practice? Padraic Scanlan, in his beautifully-written first book, Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in...

What was the British abolition of the slave trade like in practice? Padraic Scanlan, in his beautifully-written first book, Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution (Yale University Press, 2017), explores the bureaucratic, economic, and military consequences of translating abolition law into lived reality for the British colony of Sierra Leone. It overturns highly moralistic notions of British antislavery and reveals the murkier, at times frenzied, and extremely profitable realities of abolition that paved the way for an exploitative and violent colonial history in Africa.


Louise Moschetta is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, working on Indian indentured labour in the British imperial world and beyond.

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