New Director of LBS

We are extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Matthew Smith as the new Director of LBS and as Chair in the Department of History at UCL. For an interview with Matthew Smith, occasioned by Black History Month, click here.

Matthew Smith is a distinguished Caribbeanist and historian of Caribbean nationhood and of Atlantic slavery and Emancipation and their aftermaths. He is currently Professor in History and Head, Department of History and Archaeology at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica.

Professor Smith said, “I am delighted to assume the Directorship of LBS. While extending and further strengthening its existing wonderful work on slave-ownership in metropolitan Britain, I believe we can fully realise its potential for research into the lives of the enslaved people as well as the enslavers.”

Catherine Hall, Chair of LBS, spoke for existing staff with her comments: “This is a terrific appointment for the Centre. We are fortunate to have attracted a scholar of Matt’s stature. He will help embed us fully in the Caribbean and extend the reach and scope of our work.”

Matthew Smith’s publications include Liberty, Fraternity, Exile: Haiti and Jamaica After Emancipation (2014) and Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change (2009).

Nick Draper, current Director of LBS, will be retiring in September. Nick’s PhD work was the foundation of the original LBS database and he has been central to the development of LBS in all its stages. He has demonstrated, most recently in his leadership of LBS, his deep commitment to the significance of this work to the development of modern Britain. He has always insisted on the importance of solid empirical evidence and the necessity of making this work available to as wide an audience as possible. We will miss him very much and look forward to continuing connections.

In a related development at UCL, Professor Paul Gilroy has been appointed as the Director of the new Centre for the Study of Race and Racism, a significant commitment by the University to the critical study of racism and its effects. Read more about this in the July 2019 newsletter here.