Skip to main content

Dr Bronwen Everill

  • College positions:

    1973 College Lecturer

    Director of Studies in History

    Undergraduate Tutor

    Discrimination and Harassment Contact

  • Subjects:


AB Harvard University (History and French); MSt University of Oxford (Archaeology); PhD King's College, London (History)

Research and teaching

I'm broadly interested in the place of Africa and the role of Africans in the shaping of ideas about humanitarianism, empire, and commerce in the modern period.  I have approached this mainly from the perspective of the antislavery settlements in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the early nineteenth century - where the development of society, the shift (or attempted shift) to a settler economy, and the cultural engagement with British and American colonization projects helped to shape a regional territorial and commercial rivalry that influenced the future of British and American engagement with 'humanitarian' projects in Africa.

This interest in the longer term effects of humanitarian engagement with Africa led to a collaborative book on the long history of humanitarian intervention, state-building, charity, and relief efforts (and their interconnectedness) undertaken on the continent by external actors. We sought to disturb the narrative of humanitarian intervention as a home-grown European ideal exported abroad, to one shaped 'on the ground' in imperial engagements in Africa (and elsewhere).  

My current work - the subject of a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at King's College London - is focused on the transition from the slave trade to 'legitimate' commerce in West Africa and its connections to the rise of ethical consumer movements.  I am particularly interested in Senegambian maritime history; consumer politics in Islamic and Atlantic West Africa; material culture (especially fashion) in the African Atlantic World; and the influence of the perception of African economies on the field of American and British political economy in the early to mid-nineteenth century. 

I supervise for Papers 21, 22, and 23 in Part I, and 29 in Part II, and am happy to supervise postgraduate students.

Select publications


Not Made By Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Abolition and Empire in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Cambridge Series in Imperial and Post-colonial Studies, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 

Co-edited with Josiah Kaplan, The History and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention and Aid in Africa, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 

Articles and Chapters

"Africa and the Early American Republic: Comments." Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 40 no. 2, (2020), p. 209-215. doi:10.1353/jer.2020.0032

Humanitarianism in Africa. Oxford Research Encyclopedia, African History. (2020).

Saint Louis, Senegal. Oxford Bibliography of Atlantic History. (2019).

with Matthew Hilton, Emily Baughan, Eleanor Davey, Kevin O’Sullivan, Tehila Sasson "History and Humanitarianism: A Conversation," Past & Present (2018)

"'All the baubles that they needed': Industriousness and slavery in Saint-Louis and Goree," Early American Studies, vol. 4, no 4 (Fall, 2017), 714-739.

"Experiments in Colonial Citizenship in Sierra Leone and Liberia," in B.Tomek and M.Hetrick, eds. Reconsiderations and Redirections in the Study of African Colonization (University Press of Florida, 2017)

"The Evolution of Economic Interventions and the Violence of International Accountability over the longue durée," in A.Warren and D.Grenfell, eds. Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention in the Twenty-first Century (Edinburgh University Press, 2017)

"Material culture and Sierra Leone's civilising mission in the nineteenth century" in B.Crosbie and M.Hampton, eds. The Cultural Construction of the British World (Manchester University Press, 2015)

“The Italo-Abyssian Crisis and the Rhetorical Shift from Slave to Refugee,” Slavery & Abolition 35, 2 (2014), 349-365. 

“‘The Colony has made no progress in Agriculture’: Contested Perceptions of Agriculture in the Colonies of Sierra Leone and Liberia,” in R.Law, S.Strickrodt, and S.Schwarz, eds. Commercial Agriculture as an Alternative to the Slave Trade (James Curry/Ohio University Press, 2013).

“Bridgeheads of Empire? Liberated African Missionaries in West Africa,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41, Special Issue (2012), 789-805.

“‘Destiny seems to point me to that country’: African American Migration, Emigration, and Expansion,” Journal of Global History, 7, 1 (2012), 53-77. 

“British West Africa or ‘The United States of Africa’? Imperial Pressures on the Transatlantic Antislavery Movement, 1839-1842,” The Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, (2011).

Blog posts