James Dawkins is a historian and a Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster, where he is developing a comprehensive digital dictionary of British slave-traders. His work focuses on tracing and studying the socio-economic, political, and commercial connections between Britain and its former West Indian slave colonies during the 18th and early 19th centuries. He is also engaged in research which identifies and publicly acknowledges the significance of enslaved African labour to the industrial, institutional and cultural development of modern Britain.
James is a member of the distinguished Legacies of British Slave-ownership project at University College London, and sits on a number of expert advisory panels for scholarly organisations and community projects including the Institute for the Study of Slavery, Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted and Colonialism, Slavery, Trade, Reparations: Remedying the ‘Past’?. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed academic works, most recently, Nottingham’s Universities and their Connections to the Transatlantic Slave Economy, to be published by the University of Nottingham in late 2022.
James Dawkins’ research on both the Dawkins family and the legacies of British slave-ownership has gained national and international media attention. In 2021, he appeared on BBC Witness History podcast to discuss his research on whether or not he is descended both from enslaved people and the slave-owning Dawkins family who have links to the evolutionary biologist and renowned atheist, Dr Richard Dawkins. He also appeared in the BAFTA award-winning documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave-owners alongside David Olusoga.
He is working on his first trade book exploring the history of the Dawkins family, and the legacy of the slave trade in modern Britain.