Dr Jake Subryan Richards

Assistant Professor

Department of International History

Room No
English, French, Italian, Portuguese
Key Expertise
African Diaspora, Legal History, West Africa, Latin America, Caribbean

About me

Jake Subryan Richards is a historian of law, empire, and the African diaspora in the Atlantic world. His research concerns how enslaved and free people interacted with law in a world structured by Atlantic empires. His first book project analyzes the history of the suppression of the transatlantic trade in enslaved African people. The book investigates the legal status attributed to people ‘liberated’ from slaving ships by naval patrols and subjected to bonded apprenticeship.

He has published his research in Past and Present, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and Modern Intellectual History.

Richards is interested in uncovering sources that tell new stories about people who lived under slavery and post-slavery regimes. These sources range from legal records in archives to objects and images in museums. His future research projects include using museum collections to tell histories of enslavement in the Atlantic world.

Richards was previously Assistant Professor of Modern British History at Durham University. He earned his PhD at the University of Cambridge (2020) and was a Visiting Fellow in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University on a US-UK Fulbright Commission Postgraduate Scholarship (2016-2017).

Richards is a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker and a British Art Network Emerging Curator.

Other titles: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (Department Representative)

Expertise Details

African Diaspora; Comparative Methods; Enslavement; Emancipation; Empire; Law

Teaching & supervision

Dr Jake Subryan Richards usually teaches the following courses in the Department:

At undergraduate level:

HY333: Enslavement, commerce, and political formations in West Africa, c. 1550-1836

At masters level:

HY486: Practicing Abolition in the Atlantic World, c. 1807-1870


News & media

Writing & Broadcasting

• ‘Airborne’, British Art UnCanon, October 2022

• ‘Colonial Mentalities’, History Today, 70:9, September 2020, pp. 90-93

• ‘On Black Lives Matter’, Historical Association News, Autumn 2020, pp. 6-7

• ‘John Baptist Dasalu and fighting for freedom’, The Essay, Radio 3

• Contributor, ‘The Zong Massacre’, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4

• Contributor, ‘Ships and History’, Free Thinking, Radio 3


New Position in Emerging Curators Group

Dr Richards has been awarded a position in the Emerging Curators Group 2021/22, organized by the British Art Network. He will undertake academic and curatorial research as part of an ongoing project with the University of Cambridge Museums.


Co-winner of the Prince Consort & Thirlwall Prize and Seeley Medal

Dr Richards received the prize from the Faculty of History at Cambridge University for best doctoral dissertation. His thesis was on how abolition laws shaped the opportunities and limitations for "liberated Africans" in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. Read more


New article

Dr Richards' latest article was released online by the Comparative Studies in Society and History journal. “The Adjudication of Slave Ship Captures, Coercive Intervention, and Value Exchange in Comparative Atlantic Perspective, ca. 1839-1870” argues that abolition as a legal field emerged from interactions between liberated Africans, British diplomatic and naval agents, and local political elites in Brazil and on the Upper Guinea Coast.


‘On Black Lives Matter’, Historical Association News, Autumn 2020, pp. 6-7

Colonial Mentalities’, History Today, 70:9, September 2020, pp. 90-93

Contributor, ‘The Zong Massacre’, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 26 November