Black Students in Imperial Britain

BookBlack Students in Imperial Britain

Black Students in Imperial Britain

The African Institute, Colwyn Bay, 1889-1911


November 15th, 2022





'An excellent study, clearly written, based on sparkling new research, supported by extensive primary and secondary sources, replete with stimulating ideas, which adds to current knowledge on the African presence in Britain at the height of the brief colonial interlude in Africa.'
Professor David Killingray, Goldsmiths, and School of Advanced Study, University of London

'Of extraordinarily high quality, combining careful archival research, theoretical interventions with accomplished writing, this original work is of significance, not only in its subject matter, but also in the approach to the material, which will provide useful methodological guidance in teaching. It is clearly timely, and has much to offer academics and public historians.'
Dr Christine Whyte, University of Glasgow

This book caters for the demand in new black histories by rediscovering several little-known black people’s experiences in late-Victorian Britain. It centres on The African Institute of Colwyn Bay, or ‘Congo House’, at which almost 90 children and young adults from Africa and its diaspora were enrolled to train as missionaries between 1889 and 1911. Burroughs finds that, though their encounters in Britain were shaped by the racism and paternalism of the late-nineteenth-century civilising mission, the students were not simply the objects of British charity. They were also agents in a culture of evangelical humanitarianism. Some were fully absorbed in the civilising mission, becoming leading missionaries. Others adapted their experiences to new ends, participating in networks of pan-Africanism that questioned race prejudice and colonialism. In their negotiations of the challenges and opportunities at the heart of the empire, the students of Congo House reveal how the global currents of black history shaped the localised cultures of Victorian philanthropy. From racism to pan-Africanism, this study sheds new light on key issues in black British history.

Author Information

Robert Burroughs is Professor and Head of English and Creative Writing at the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Leeds Beckett University.