Reparative histories: tracing narratives of black resistance and white entitlement

Catherine Bergin, Anita Rupprecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reinvigoration of forms of white supremacy in the US and Europe has sharply delineated the connections between occluded racialised pasts and contemporary race politics in ways which make reparative history an urgent concern. This article argues that contemporary struggles over the politics of memorialisation telegraph more than a debate over contested histories. They are also signs of how the liberal narrative of ‘trauma’ and healing no longer suffices as a way of marginalising the history of radical black agency. Building on the research by the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, the article focuses on the incendiary year of 1831 and on a moment of collision – between black resistance and white entitlement. It situates a hitherto overlooked aborted slave uprising in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, within its multiple radical Caribbean, Atlantic and British contexts as a way of disrupting the distance between histories confined to ‘there’ and those confined to ‘here’. The article explores how the link between slavery and capitalism can be connected concretely to the black claim made on the nature of that emancipation as a way of further developing the concept of reparative history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages15
JournalRace and Class
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2018


  • 1831 revolts
  • abolitionism
  • Brighton
  • Confederacy statues
  • Haitian Revolution
  • Legacies of British Slave-ownership
  • memorialisation
  • reparative history
  • slave rebellions
  • Tortola conspiracy
  • transatlantic slavery


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