Dr Bronwen Everill


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

Research and teaching

My research looks at the cultural history of economic thought, specifically how British ideas about 'the African economy' emerged and shaped commerce, humanitarianism, liberalism, and imperialism. 

I am writing a book for Princeton University Press about the imperial crises and revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries around the Atlantic World, thinking comparatively about the post-colonial US and pre-colonial Africa and their relationships to Atlantic political economy and slavery. 

I have written on imperial humanitarianism, transatlantic abolitionism, consumer politics, British and American Black settler colonies in West Africa, and the social and economic life of port cities in the African Atlantic. 

My research interests are broadly in empires and material culture, comparative decolonization in the US and Africa, memoir as history, and the history of failure.

I am happy to supervise postgraduate students. 

Select publications


Not Made By Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition (Harvard University Press, 2020) https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674240988

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

"Humanitarian priorities and West African agency in the British Empire" in J.Damousi, T.Burnard and A.Lester, eds. Humanitarianism, Empire, and Transnationalism, 1760-1995 (Manchester, 2022)

"Goods from the Sea Countries: Material Cosmopolitanism in Atlantic West Africa" in F.Gottman, ed., Commercial Cosmopolitanism? Cross-Cultural Objects, Spaces, and Institutions in the Early Modern World (Routledge, 2021)

"On the Freetown Waterfront: Household Income and Informal Wage Labour in a Nineteenth Century Port City" African Economic History Network Working Papers Series, No. 58/2020 (with Laura Channing)

“For the services of shipwrights, coopers, and grumettas”: Freetown’s ship repair cluster in nineteenth-century Sierra Leone” History of Science (2020)

"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).

Popular press

Contributor at Foreign Policy

History Extra Podcast: The Battle over the Benin Bronzes

Thoughtlines: We Are What We Buy

Talking History with Patrick Geoghegan: Best of December Books 2020

BBC In Our Time: The Zong Massacre 

The Social Innovation Think Tank

Wilberforce Institute Debate: Not Made By Slaves

"L’abolition de l’esclavage aux origines du commerce équitable" Libération

The Whiskey Rebellion Podcast