Last year, held during the Commonwealth Games, The Empire Cafe was the name given to a week of cultural events looking at Scotland’s role in Empire, the Commonwealth, and the slave trade. It was the brainchild of Louise Welsh and Jude Barber, and Scots Whay Hae! spoke to both of them about it in a previous podcast.
But another figure central to the Cafe’s success was the historian and writer, Stephen Mullen, and we finally managed to catch up with him this month. Stephen is the author of It Wisnae Us: The Truth About Glasgow & Slavery, a seminal work on Glasgow’s role in the slave trade, both in perpetrating and in opposing.
Stephen and Ali chat about the inspiration behind his research, and how It Wisnae Us came about. Sitting in the middle of Glasgow’s Merchant City, the two talk about the reminders on the streets and in the bricks and mortar of the area which point to how Glasgow made a lot of its money in the 18th and 19th centuries.
They also look back to The Empire Cafe and the other events of 2014 which raised awareness of a part of Scotland’s past still rarely discussed, before Stephen discusses the Runaway Slave Project, which you can follow on Twitter @runawayslavegb to find out more. If nothing else, you’ll find out the recipe for a Glasgow Punch. We’ve been trying to get Stephen on the podcast for some time now, and we hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait.
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