Første billede
Andet billede
Tredje billede
Fjerde billede
Femte billede
Sjette billede
Syvende billede

The Brookes – Visualising the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2007)

Kildeteksten er et uddrag af en artikel af R. Wilson fra Institute of Historical Research ved University of London. Artiklen debatterer den ukommenterede brug af billedet The Brookes, som viser det kendte tværsnit af et slaveskib.

Den fulde artikel kan findes på history.ac.uk.



The image of the enslaved in the Brookes is reduced to illustrating the structure of the ship itself. The crude renderings of the enslaved in the print, side by side, serves to dehumanise individuals at the very moment when the need to proclaim their humanity is paramount. They are reduced to ciphers, images of pain and cruelty, to be easily understood by the viewer. The image can therefore be certainly criticised as sanitising the history of the Middle Passage, as the suffering of the enslaved is observed to be obscured or altered by the political objectives or sensibilities of the original abolitionists.


Designed for a white British audience the image facilitated the empowering of individuals to take an ethical stance. It creates an impression of privilege and righteousness. It provides an assumption of power over others. The depiction of the enslaved as small figures for the purpose of illustrating the capacity of the ship thereby ensures an inherently superior, external and neutral stance on the transatlantic slave trade and slavery.


The Brookes offers a mode of empathy, a sense of connection for its observers but this is based upon witnessing the suffering of others in an abstract manner, in terms of the capacity of the ship itself rather than the experiences of the individuals in the holds.

In this respect the image is a symbol of control, it dictates a particular way of viewing and remembering the slave trade. Significantly, it offers only one perspective, that of the abolitionist witnessing cruelty, the perspective of those who are suffering the cruelty is predominantly absent.

It is for this reason that the image has been considered by groups, communities and individuals especially those of African heritage as offensive and disempowering. The image in effect narrates a history which obscures the voices of those enslaved and their descendents.


Tekst 40 | Oversigten over kildetekster | Tekst 42

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