4 million Euro for slave trade project – University of Copenhagen

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17 November 2011

4 million Euro for slave trade project

On the 1. November 2011, ‘EUROTAST', a Marie Curie Actions Initial Training Network was launched. With a budget of over 4 million Euros, the primary objective of the network is to train a new generation of researchers while contributing to a better understanding of the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies today.

Funded by the European Union under the 7. Framework Programme, the network offers 15 fellowships, 13 as early stage researchers (ESRs/PhDs) and 2 Experienced Researchers (ERs), to conduct research on aspects of the transatlantic slavery.

Better understanding of a traumatic period

Lead by Professor Tom Gilbert and Dr Hannes Schroeder at the Centre for GeoGenetics, EUROTAST consists of a core team of nine academic partners, and one industrial partner, in seven European countries. Supporting this team are a wide range of associated partners from elsewhere in Europe, America, and West Africa.

Overall the network participants includes leading researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including some that are not traditionally associated with slave trade research. Working together on a common theme, this team of historians, archaeologists, sociologists and geneticists will examine various aspects of the slave trade that will increase our understanding of this traumatic period in our history and, thus, help us to come to terms with it.

By bringing in experts from these various fields, we hope to contribute new data that will add to our knowledge of how the slave trade operated and how it shaped the population history of an entire continent.

David Richardson, Hannes Schroeder and Luisa Pereira (Photo: Maria Lotz, GeoGenetics)

David Richardson, Hannes Schroeder and Luisa Pereira (Photo: Maria Lotz, GeoGenetics)

Humanities and science collaboration

The transatlantic slave trade represents one of the most brutal chapters in modern history and is now widely recognised as a crime against humanity. The principal aim of this network is to examine the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies from a variety of different angles.

The key objective of the network is to hire thirteen PhD students and two Experienced Researchers, by advertising globally, and chosen to represent a wide range of disciplines, including history, archaeology, sociology, heritage studies and genetics.

Together this team will investigate various aspects of the slave trade and its legacies today. By bringing in experts from these various fields, including some that are not traditionally associated with slave trade research, such as genetics, we hope to contribute new data that will add to our knowledge of how the slave trade operated and how it impacted on the lives of millions of people.

Furthermore, we believe that this setup presents a unique opportunity to deliver a training package that will encourage interdisciplinary thinking and help us to bridge the gap between what C.P. Snow called the 'two cultures' of modern society - the sciences and the humanities. Working together on a common theme, a team of historians, archaeologists, sociologists and geneticists will examine various aspects of the slave trade that will increase our understanding of this horrific period in our history and, thus, help us to come to terms with it.

Helen Weinstein and Tom Gilbert (Photo: Maria Lotz, GeoGenetics)

Helen Weinstein and Tom Gilbert (Photo: Maria Lotz, GeoGenetics)

Raising awareness

Last but not least, we aim to disseminate the results of our various projects as widely as possible and we believe that the unique combination of history and science will enable us to reach a much broader spectrum of the general public than hitherto possible. Thus, our three primary objectives are as follows:

  • To examine the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies today from a variety of different angles including history, archaeology, sociology, heritage studies, and genetics. 

  • To encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary thinking and to provide first-class training across a wide range of disciplines through structured training courses, workshops, research visits, and secondments.

  • And, finally, to raise awareness of this traumatic period in our history by disseminating the results of our various projects as widely as possible.