A ‘fanatic’ lecture on slavery at the University of Cambridge has sparked a backlash from donations amid fears it will attack Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy.
On Wednesday, scholars gather on campus for a three-day event titled “Considering Reparations: Historical and Comparative Approaches.”
The forum says it aims to respond to “growing calls for reparations for slavery” and to address “the myriad injustices of the post-emancipation experience”.
But insiders say the program was captured by “propaganda” activists, filled with radical academics mostly from American universities who condemned colonialism.
The homepage of the conference website features an “unpleasant” quote from Kenyan activist Wambugu Wa Nyingi that “criticizes” the late Queen.
It was organized by Sabine Cadeau, who led the controversial Cambridge Legacies of Enslavement survey which was finally published last week, alongside Trinity College and Crassh, a cross-faculty research group at Cambridge.
The program contains lectures on “Reparation Movements in the Age of Black Lives Matter”, “Environmental Racism”, “The Institutional Dynamics of Elite Capture”, and “The Problem of Value in the Age of British emancipation”.
“Bad Taste” Undertones
A lengthy section on universities and slavery includes a lecture on “Oxbridge’s legacy of slavery” by Nicholas Bell-Romero, a scholar whose own report on slavery at Cambridge sparked a major row with scholars. historians over alleged inaccuracies.
Nicholas Guyatt, a Cambridge scholar, also spoke of ‘imperial nostalgia of the week’ during the Queen’s mourning period, and tweeted that her ‘thirteen-year-old [is] trolling me into demanding to watch the Queen’s funeral at the local cinema”.
Writers from The New York Times are also on the program, as well as the Reverend Dr Michael Banner, the first clergyman to call on the British government to pay reparations for the slave trade.
Professor David Abulafia, a renowned historian at Gonville and Caius College, said he wondered if “any of the speakers takes a critical view of the argument that there should be reparations and restitution, because it’s vital that there’s a proper debate about it.”
He told the Telegraph: “It’s that feeling that it’s going to be one-sided that concerns me. It’s very unfortunate that at the moment the Queen seems to be under criticism.
A Cambridge source said the conference was “propaganda” in its approach with “bigoted” speakers and “unpleasant” undertone about the late Queen.
Another Cambridge leader, who wished to remain anonymous, was even more scathing.
“Disguised activism in academia”
“Too often, Crassh’s impact on the humanities at Cambridge is exactly what the acronym implies: a collision between ideology and serious intellectual inquiry,” he told the Telegraph.
“This conference seems to be just one more example of how the university’s obsession with race distorts a balanced approach to research. It’s disguised activism in academia.
Cambridge Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Kamal Munir wrote to all staff on Thursday defending the publication of his three-year-old investigation, which found no evidence the university directly owned any tree plantations. slaves or slaves, although she received “significant benefits”.
The email, obtained by The Telegraph, insisted that ‘Cambridge is better to know than not to know about its past’ as it will ‘make the Cambridge of tomorrow more thoughtful, fairer and more open to all talent’.
Professor Doug Stokes, an international relations expert at the University of Exeter, said the transatlantic slave trade enriched a “handful of aristocrats”, not Britain as a whole.
“It is morally obscene to suggest that white Britons are collectively guilty and that the great-great-grandchildren of today’s miners or chimney sweeps should see their family’s money given away to assuage the conscience of privileged academics “, he added.
A Cambridge University spokesperson said the conference was “open to questions and debate” and “brings together the broadest possible discussion of the history of black populations across the Americas and formerly colonized nations of Africa, with contributions from international experts in their fields”.