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This conference is concerned with the use of armed men of African descent by the European empires and American states of the Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This encompasses both those deliberately armed and those who had taken up arms, perhaps to liberate themselves, and later came to an accommodation with the regime, as well as short-term enrolments and permanent military establishments. The conference relates to a four-year AHRC-funded project, ‘Africa’s Sons Under Arms: Race, Military Bodies and the British West India Regiments in the Atlantic World, 1795-1914′, which focuses on military units raised by the British, initially as enslaved people, that served in the Caribbean and West Africa. A primary aim of the conference is to contextualise the Regiments in relation to similar formations and policies elsewhere. In so doing, our hope is that papers will build on and go beyond work on armed slaves, notably Brown and Morgan, Arming Slaves (2008), to think more broadly about the significance and impact of deploying armed men of African descent in a period when most were imperial subjects and generally denigrated within Euro-American discourse.

The conference is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and organised by Professor David Lambert ( and Professor Tim Lockley (

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