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University of Cambridge colleges look to put slavery connections firmly in the past



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A Cambridge college has renamed an accommodation unit over concerns that its name had connotations of slavery.

Clare College, Cambridge
Clare College, Cambridge

Clare College has renamed ‘The Colony’ as Castle Court as the nickname for the accommodation did not “reflect the values of the college”.

A Clare College spokesperson said: “It has become increasingly clear that the informal name for the site between Chesterton Lane and Castle Street has connotations which do not reflect the values of the college.

“The site is therefore being redesignated as Castle Court.”

The news comes after Jesus College’s campaign to remove a memorial plaque to Tobias Rustat, a college benefactor and investor in the slave trade, from its chapel.

The college fought the Church of England in a consistory court case in February to remove the memorial to an alternative space but ultimately lost the case.

In 2021, the college also returned a Benin Bronze – a sculpture of a cockerel – to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

The Benin Bronze which Jesus College returned to Nigeria last year
The Benin Bronze which Jesus College returned to Nigeria last year

In 2019, St Catharine’s College removed the Demerara bell from public view as it was believed it was used on a slave plantation in Guyana.

In the same year, Cambridge created an advisory group on the legacy of slavery at the university, which is researching the institution’s involvement in the Atlantic slave trade and other historical forms of coerced or indentured labour.

“While it may be impossible to definitively establish the full extent of the university’s involvement, a growing understanding of that involvement should be central to the university’s efforts to address some of the structural inequalities that are a legacy of enslavement,” a statement said.



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