A network run by the University of Edinburgh, Historic Environment Scotland, and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Oswald’s Temple, Auchincruive (Image: Creative Commons)

This network aims to build conversations on the links and legacies of the transatlantic slave trade, empire, and Scotland’s built environment. Through building and promoting connections, it hopes to bring together researchers, heritage specialists, third sector organisations, and a wider community of those interested in the legacies of the British Empire in Scotland’s historic environment.

It will discuss how we can recognise the impacts of empire and the transatlantic slave economy through the stories of our historic sites, and consider how we can amplify the hidden voices of Scotland’s historic environment in the heritage of our buildings and landscapes.

Through conversations already being held on Scotland’s links with the transatlantic slave trade and Empire, this network will consider how heritage can engage with anti-racist practices, recognising and interrogating the colonial legacies of societal and institutional white supremacy that still exist in the present day. We will discuss how this impacts marginalised communities in Scotland – opening up conversations on how Scottish historical legacies are currently perceived, acknowledged and addressed within our historic built environment.

Starting this network in March 2020 during the wake of a global pandemic brought Managing Imperial Legacies into the digital realm. As a result this website links current conversations which address the relationship between race, Empire and the historic built environment. Some of the content here is online webinar discussions hosted by this network, while other content links to the work of other scholars and activists working in this area. While this network will not produce new research, it will provide a point for understanding current conversations in Scotland and further afield, and will bring together those actively engaged in the broader discussions of our network’s aims.

While the focus of this network is primarily on Scotland, we will also look to other countries who are engaging with their own stories of slavery and Empire, to learn how they are addressing difficult conversations about the heritage of their past, and acknowledging the implications of this in the present day.

This work brought many voices together to discuss this in a hybrid conference in June 2022, and is working with artist and cultural practitioner  Tanatsei Gambura to support the production of Nzira Yeparuware, an audio installation at Edinburgh Castle during September -December 2023 which considers colonial links between Zimbabwe and Scotland.