Dr Padraic X. Scanlan

Dr Padraic X. Scanlan

Assistant Professor

Department of International History

Telephone
+44 (0)20 7107 5075
Extension
5075
Room No
SAR 3.05
Connect with me

About me

*on research leave until Summer Term 2018*

Dr Scanlan is an historian of Britain and its relationship to the wider world, with a particular focus on histories of slavery, capitalism and emancipation from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. His research centres on the practices and material history of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, and the effects of abolition on the governance of Britain and the British empire. He is also broadly interested in the social and administrative histories of bureaucrats and bureaucracies, and in the history of everyday economic life.

Dr Scanlan earned a BA (Hons) in History from McGill University in 2008, and a PhD in History from Princeton University in 2013. Before joining the LSE, he was a postdoctoral Prize Fellow in the Program in Economics, History and Politics at Harvard University. He is also a Research Associate at the Joint Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge.

Expertise

British Empire; Slavery and Emancipation; Bureaucracy; Economic Life

Teaching & supervision

Dr Scanlan usually teaches the following courses:

At undergraduate level:

HY326: Slavery, Capital and Empire in the British World, 1700-1900 (not running in 2017-18)

HY244: Britain’s Atlantic World, 1688-1837

At postgraduate level:

HY474: Slavery and Emancipation in the British World

 Watch Dr Padraic X. Scanlan talk about HY326, how it is structured and how students can benefit from taking it in order to better understand the world we live in today.

Publications

Dr Scanlan’s first book, Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolutions, was published by Yale University Press in October 2017 as part of the Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History. Freedom’s Debtors  argues that British antislavery, widely seen as an historic sacrifice of economic and political capital on the altar of humanitarianism, was in fact profitable, militarily useful, and crucial to the expansion of British power in West Africa. After the British slave trade was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1807, antislavery activists in England profited, officials in the colonial capital, Freetown, came to rely on former slaves as soldiers and as cheap labour, and the British armed forces conscripted former slaves to fight in the West Indies and in West Africa. The book explores the improvisations, miscommunications, military campaigns, utopian Christian missionary projects, moneymaking schemes and everyday violence that occurred in West Africa as the abstractions of abolitionist principle were translated into the practices of imperial expansion and colonial rule.

Dr Scanlan is currently working on two book projects, a  general history of the long and tangled relationship between Britain and the British empire and the transnational world of plantation slavery and a history of the 1830s, a convulsive decade  in Britain and the British world, that places emancipation - rather than the restructuring of Parliamentary representation -.at the heart of the early Victorian 'age of reform.' 

Articles

• “The Colonial Rebirth of British Anti-Slavery: The Liberated African Villages of Sierra Leone, 1815–1824.” The American Historical Review121, no. 4 (October 1, 2016): 1085–1113.

• “Blood, Money and Endless Paper: Slavery and Capital in British Imperial History.” History Compass 14, no. 5 (2016): 218–30.

• “The Rewards of their Exertions: Prize Money and British Abolitionism in Sierra Leone, 1808-1823.” Past and Present 225 (2014): 113-142.

For a full list of publications, presentations and lectures, including links to selected works-in-progress and articles under review, please see Dr Scanlan’s curriculum vitae.

Books

News & media

Media articles and reviews: 

“Long Read Review: The New Poverty by Stephen Armstrong.” LSE Review of Books, April 9, 2018.

“Factory Made.” The New Inquiry, March 30, 2018.

“Long Read Review: The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff.” LSE Review of Books , January 17, 2018.

“Grant by Ron Chernow Review – Booze, Slavery and an Argument for Greatness.” The Guardian, December 6, 2017, sec. Books.

“Sugar by James Walvin Review – from Slavery to Obesity.” The Guardian, July 27, 2017, sec. Books.

“Britain’s History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery,” The Oxford Research Center in the Humanities (TORCH), 24 May 2017, Oxford, UK.


2018


Wallace K. Ferguson Prize

The Canadian Historical Association awarded Dr Padraic X. Scanlan its Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, which recognises the year’s outstanding scholarly book in a field of history other than Canadian history, to his recently published Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolution (Yale University Press, 2017). The Canadian Historical Association is a Canadian organisation founded in 1922 for the purposes of promoting historical research and scholarship. 


2017


New book on antislavery

Dr Scanlan’s first book, Freedom’s Debtors: British Antislavery in Sierra Leone in the Age of Revolutions, was released by Yale University Press on 24 October. The book, published as part of the Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History, argues that British antislavery, widely seen as an historic sacrifice of economic and political capital on the altar of humanitarianism, was in fact profitable, militarily useful, and crucial to the expansion of British power in West Africa. Order the book on Amazon UK (available in hardcover and Kindle edition). 

linedivider

LSE Excellence in Education Awards

Dr Padraic X. Scanlan won a 2016-17 LSE Excellence in Education Award with other members of the department. Designed to support the School’s aspiration of creating ‘a culture where excellence in teaching is valued and rewarded on a level with excellence in research’ (LSE Strategy 2020), winners of the Excellence in Education Awards are recommended by LSE Heads of Department who have demonstrated outstanding teaching contribution and educational leadership in their departments.


2015


Share Radio

Dr Padraic X. Scanlan appeared on 8 August 2015 as one of the guests on "The History of Booms, Busts and Bubbles," a programme hosted by the presenter Rita Lobo, on the financial news and commentary radio station Share Radio. He talked about slavery and the impact it had on the British Empire. Listen to the podcast of this very interesting broadcast here.