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35th Annual Tacitus Lecture

This half-term, students travelled to the Guildhall in London to attend the 35th Annual Tacitus Lecture by the historian Professor David Olusoga on Finance and the City in the Age of Historical Reckoning.

The talk addressed the lives and careers of three men - Edward Colston, John Cass and William Beckford, all of whom were involved in slave trading and the City of London. Professor Olusoga also raised a number of important points, such as, in the early 19th Century, the slave trade and activities relating to the slave trade (the insurance for the ships, for instance) made up 11% of Britain’s GDP. He emphasised this by stating that, at the time, Britain was ‘addicted to slavery’ due to the economic returns. During the talk, we realised how important it is to bring up the conversation about the slave trade, and question the history taught to us.

Following the talk, Mary Hardy, the Master of The Worshipful Company of World Traders, asked an intriguing question: What do we view as acceptable now that, in the future, will not be viewed as such? The ideas we came up with included the extensive use of fossil fuels and the selling of personal data by social media companies for profit. We found the talk really thought-provoking, and are really grateful to the economics department for providing the opportunity to us.

Hannah and Harry - Lower 6