National Trust is accused of 'bias' over slave trade links team
National Trust is accused of recruiting ‘biased’ team of colonial academics to probe its properties links to empire and the slave trade
- Colonial Countryside projects looks into links of 11 trust properties to slave trade
- The project involves nine historians working with 100 primary school children
- However, the National Trust has come under fire for the academics it’s selected
- The trust is facing accusations of bias based on the backgrounds of the experts
The National Trust has been accused of bias over the team of academics it hired to investigate the ties of its properties to the slave trade and empire.
The Colonial Countryside project is looking at 11 country houses managed by the trust and investigating their links to Africa, the Caribbean and India.
Nine historians are working with 100 primary school children to study each National Trust property and its connections to slavery.
The project aims to ‘inspire a new generation of young advocates for talking about colonial history’.
However, the trust is facing accusations of bias over the make-up of its team of historians.
Corinne Fowler, a historian at the University of Leicester, who wrote the book Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections, is the leader of the National Trust academics
One of the properties being looked at is Buckland Abbey, the Devon home of Sir Francis Drake
The academics are led by Corinne Fowler, a historian at the University of Leicester, who wrote the book Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections.
Another member of the team, Katie Donington, researches transatlantic slavery and created a video for the Museum of London Docklands last year highlighting the colonial history of a statue of the slave owner Robert Milligan.
She has also shared articles about the toppling of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
One of the ones she shared said: ‘The statue is symbolic of a history which has entrenched inequality. Dismantling the statue should be a first step in understanding and dismantling structural racism. I don’t think it should be reinstated.’
A third member, Marian Gwyn, is a heritage consultant on the team, and specialises on how ‘assets and artefacts are connected to colonial atrocity’, according to her website.
A fourth previously announced ‘full solidarity’ with Cambridge professor Priyamvada Gopal for her ‘long-standing research in anti-colonial resistance struggles’.
Katie Donington (left) researches transatlantic slavery and created a video for the Museum of London Docklands last year highlighting the colonial history of a statue of the slave owner Robert Milligan. Marian Gwyn (right) is a heritage consultant on the team, and specialises on how ‘assets and artefacts are connected to colonial atrocity’, according to her website
One of the properties being looked at is Buckland Abbey, the Devon home of Sir Francis Drake.
It is listed in the review because the explorer ‘depended on the help of an African circumnavigator named Diego to make successful voyages and take possession of substantial riches’.
The backgrounds of members of the investigation have led to criticism.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the Times: ‘It’s about time that the National Trust got their own great house in order. The vast majority of the public are just losing confidence in their management and direction.
‘This confirms our worst fears that they’ve been overtaken by divisive Black Lives Matter supporters. In what way do they feel that is attractive to the average person who wants to visit a National Trust property?’
A National Trust spokeswoman said it ‘has high standards when it comes to political impartiality among its employees including in their social media output’.
She added: ‘We often work with independent people who bring a range of expertise and their own perspectives. Colonial Countryside is a creative writing project where children can explore aspects of history and make their own responses. National Trust staff worked alongside academics, including those from the University of Leicester, to enable them to explore National Trust properties.’
Source: Read Full Article