Cambridge seeks scholar to review Trinity College’s links to slavery

Trinity College Cambridge University of Cambridge slavery links job role history - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
Trinity College Cambridge University of Cambridge slavery links job role history - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

A University of Cambridge college is to appoint an academic to a four-year post to examine its legacies of slavery.

Trinity College said that its new Legacies of Slavery Research and Teaching fellow will consider the ways in which the college might have gained from the slave trade.

This could be through fees and bequests from students and alumni, or from investments by the College.

The fellow, to be appointed in October, will also explore any contributions by Trinity members who opposed the practice of enslavement.

‘Recognising historical ties’

Isuri Ratnayake, the ethnic and inclusion officer at Trinity’s Graduate Society, said: “Examining and acknowledging the college’s legacies of slavery is crucial in cultivating a culture of accountability and inclusivity.

“Only by facing our past can we pave the way towards a more equitable future, where all members of our community can thrive free from the shadows of oppression and discrimination.

“I hope that other institutions along with Trinity continue in recognising their historical ties to slavery and taking tangible steps towards repair and reconciliation.”

The Rev Dr Michael Banner, the dean of Trinity College Chapel, said it was a “welcome initiative” and “essential to enabling us to comprehend the extent to which the college was involved or benefited from slavery, whether directly or indirectly”.

“This research will enable debate and discussion from a wide range of perspectives, both within the college community and with the wider public,” he said.

Slavery inquiry

News of the new job role came after Cambridge undertook its Legacies of Slavery inquiry between 2019 and 2022.

Recommendations were made for the establishment of a research centre at the university, as well as for funding for new partnerships in Africa and the Caribbean, including Cambridge Caribbean Scholarships.

Trinity College has pledged to donate £1 million over five years to Cambridge Caribbean Scholarships, enabling up to three Master’s students per year from the Caribbean to study at the university.

Two PhD studentships will also be available during the five-year initiative, which begins in October.