Quaker Women and the Material Culture of Abolition in Britain: the Wedgwood Slave Medallion and Free Produce Cotton 1780s – 1830s.
Also advised by Prof Lou Taylor and Dr Jane Webster (NIASSH, University of Newcastle)
British abolition movement (1780s – 1830s) saw an unprecedented mobilization of public energies, committed to end the iniquitous transatlantic slave trade. This study will examine the role of female Quakers such as Eleanor Clark of Street, who expressed their abhorrence of the trade by boycotting slave goods, such as sugar and cotton and creating ethically sourced, Free Produce, non-slave alternatives.
Female, Quaker connections to the Wedgwood slave medallion will also be examined. This tiny ceramic medallion depicting a kneeling slave became crucial to the campaign, attaining the status of visual emblem of the British abolition movement, and this study will specifically examine its placement within the female, Quaker world of goods.
Research questions will relate to the production, distribution and consumption of the two material objects; ceramic medallion and Free Produce cotton textiles. This will be viewed within the material culture of abolition. I will address issues of female agency and ethical and religious attitudes to consumption to abolition goods, tracking where possible, narratives and specific case studies.
Critical readings and interpretations will be informed by works by: Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace; Clare Midgley; John Oldfield; Marcus Wood; Sandra Holton; Elizabeth O’Donnell; Marcia Pointon; Lorna Weatherill and Charlotte Sussman. Amanda Vickery’s meticulous approach to the archive exemplifies good working practice.
Pasold Fund, M.A. Research Grant.