Welcome to Empire Museum

About Us

For many years ‘Scotland’s Amnesia’ has allowed Scots to distance themselves from their involvement in shaping a global attitude of racial hierarchy that has and continues to have an influence in all areas of life in Scotland. These racial hierarchies were developed to justify the abhorrent actions of Western Nations, especially in relation to empire, slavery and colonialism.

This digital space is a platform to publish history and make it widely available to deepen our understanding of the past, as we cannot expect to resolve the racial inequalities persisting today without understanding the history that brought us to this point.

In Scotland, people of African, Caribbean and Asian descent have very specific historical contexts linking to empire, transatlantic slavery, colonialism and migration, each of which have an extensive impact on Scotland’s economic, demographic, environmental, cultural and social development. In the present day, the histories of these communities are not acknowledged and represented as well as they could be within history, heritage, arts and culture work in Scotland.

Our Mission

In 2016 the United Nations Committee for the Elimination for Racial Discrimination expressed concern at the lack of balance in educating Scottish society about the history of the British Empire and colonialism and recommended that there should be a balanced account of the history of empire and colonialism, including slavery and other grave human rights violations within education.

Our mission is to provide a space that is guided by people who bring the right mixture of authenticity, expertise and experience. We aim to collaborate with the public, historians and activists to allow for curiosity and reflection. It is essential from early years onwards people have the chance to explore Scotland’s history in a truthful and representative way. A better understanding is needed of the history of empire, colonialism, slavery and migration so we learn can learn from the past to understand the present and agitate for change in the world we want to live in in the future.

Our Vision

Across Scotland there is a growing recognition of the need to represent the realities of empire, colonialism, slavery and migration as an integral part of its history and heritage. This is a positive step towards a more representative cultural life in Scotland. However, Scotland still lacks a coherent way of telling these stories; a meaning and engaging platform through which education, curiosity and reflection on our past can be satisfied. Cities like Liverpool, London and Bristol have found a way to address this through dedicated spaces – museums, archives and learning centres. It is time Scotland fulfilled this need. Our vision is that within the next decade, Scotland will have its own National museum of empire, colonialism, slavery and migration. Combining interactive exhibition spaces with an archive and learning centre, the education benefits alone will be immeasurable. This will include looking at the contributions of Black and minority ethnic individuals and communities, as well as exploring Scotland’s role in imperialism and slavery.

We hope you will join us on this journey and ask that you stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter. Community involvement and participation will be crucial to ensure the context and content of the museum credibly reflects the lives, origins and experiences of Black and minority ethnic people in Scotland.

Meet our committee

Jatin Haria

Jatin Haria

Chair
Jatin is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), a post he has held for the past 20 years. In 2002, Jatin started the first coordinated programme for Black History Month in Scotland. Jatin is an elected member of the United Kingdom Race and Europe Network (UKREN).
Cllr Jen Layden

Cllr Jen Layden

Vice Chair
Jen was elected for the first time in 2017 as councillor for Calton Ward and appointed to the city cabinet as Convenor for Equalities and Human Rights.
Zandra Yeaman

Zandra Yeaman

Secretary
Zandra is the Community and Campaigns Officer for the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) Zandra works with partners and community members to coordinate an events programme for Black History Month in Scotland.
Anita Shelton

Anita Shelton

Anita has enjoyed a career in education in both Europe and the United States. They have long been an active trade unionist, being a founding member of the STUC Black Workers’ Committee and a former member of the STUC General Council. Anita was honoured with a Special Award in recognition of her work with and support of black trade unionists in Scotland by the STUC Women’s Committee.
Sandra Deslandes Clark

Sandra Deslandes Clark

Sandra is the lead officer for Semper Scotland, Scotland’s equivalent of the National Black Police Association.
Suki Wan

Suki Wan

Suki is the current Vice-Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and has been the elected Member for Glasgow Shettleston since March 2015. In addition to her local constituency work, Suki has been involved in national activities advocating for young people’s rights at a national level.
Harriette Campbell

Harriette Campbell

Harriette is an activist and one of the founding members of the African Caribbean Women’s Association (ACWA). She was ACWA chair 2000 – 2015.
Cllr Graham Campbell

Cllr Graham Campbell

Graham is a veteran political campaigner and community activist who in May 2017, was elected as Glasgow's first African Caribbean Councillor. Graham was instrumental in Glasgow City Council holding its first ever official Black History Month event hosted by the Lord Provost in October 2017.
Marenka Thompson-Odlum

Marenka Thompson-Odlum

Marenka is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow. Her research titled Glasgow, Scotland and Slavery: Evidence from the Glasgow Musuems’ Collections is a collaborative project between the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Museums which houses over a million objects. Her research explores the role of Scotland in the trans-Atlantic slave trade through the lens of material culture.
Professor Simon Newman

Professor Simon Newman

Simon’s research has focused on the history of enslaved people who tried to escape to freedom. With the support of the Leverhulme Trust he has engaged in a major study of enslaved people who were brought to Scotland and England in the eighteenth century, and who then escaped.
Dr Christine Whyte

Dr Christine Whyte

Christine is a global historian focused on West Africa, slavery and its abolition and the history of children and childhoods. Her work focuses on the importance of children and ideas about childhood to labour regimes, particularly those systems designed to bring an end to slavery.
Jill Miller

Jill Miller

Jill provides leadership for Arts & Music, Museums and Collections and leads on key initiatives such as Volunteering and Equalities. Jill also plays a lead role for the city’s arts sector, focusing on building partnerships and enabling artists and arts organisations to develop and realise their ambitions.
Duncan Dornan

Duncan Dornan

Duncan Dornan is Head of Museums and Collections at Glasgow Life. He joined the National Museums of Scotland as Museum Manager, working on the delivery of the National Museum of Rural Life, a joint partnership between the National Museums and NTS and moved to Glasgow Museums in 2013 as Senior Manager (Public Programming and Customer Service).

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