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This article explores the nature and limitations of humanitarian political economy by discussing metropolitan British responses to a major famine that took place in the Agra region of north-central India in 1837–38. This disaster played a significant role in catalyzing wider debates about the impact of East India Company governance and the place of the subcontinent within the post-emancipation British Empire. By comparing the responses of organization such as the Aborigines Protection Society and British India Society to that of proponents of the newly emergent indenture system, the paper seeks to contextualize responses to the famine in terms both of longer histories of famine in South Asia and of the specific imperial circumstances of the late 1830s. In doing so, it explores how ideas of agricultural distress in India fed into competing strategies to utilize Indian labor in the service of colonial commodity production both within India and around the empire.
To evaluate the feasibility of implementing psychosocial distress screening in a breast center of a comprehensive cancer center, using a model of structure (personnel, resources), process (screening), and outcome (number of patients screened, number referred).
The first step in the project was to establish administrative support, educate and engage breast center staff, identify stakeholders and persons with expertise in the conduct of evidence based initiatives. A two-phase implementation approach was agreed upon with Phase I being screening of new patients in surgical oncology and Phase II being screening women in medical oncology.
A total of 173 patients were screened. The new patients screened in surgical oncology reported higher average distress scores compared to patients in medical oncology (5.7 vs. 4.0). However, a greater number of patients in medical oncology reported scores >4 compared to the new patients screened in surgery (54% vs. 35%). Psychological distress was the most commonly reported distress for patients in surgery. In contrast, 60% of scores >4 in medical oncology were symptom related, managed by the nurse or physician.
Significance of results:
Nurse led implementation of psychosocial distress screening is feasible, addressing this important quality indicator of patient-centered care.
In December 1771, a man named James Somerset was confined in irons on board the Anne and Mary, a ship then anchored in the Thames. Somerset, who had been a slave in Virginia and Massachusetts, came to England with his master, Charles Stewart, in 1769. After absconding from Stewart's service, he was recaptured in November 1771 and, on refusing to return to his master's service, handed over for transportation to Jamaica, to be resold into slavery. Fortunately for Somerset, his plight caught the attention of anti-slavery leaders John Marlow, Thomas Walkin and Elizabeth Cade, who, with the help of Granville Sharp, petitioned the Chief Justice Lord Mansfield for a writ of habeas corpus to release him. The case that followed represented a landmark in the history of British attitudes to slavery, because when Lord Mansfield announced his verdict in June 1772 he found that, because enslavement could not exist without a positive law to uphold it, it could not be enforced in Britain. The precise implications of Mansfield's decision are contested; some historians see it as marking the abolition of slavery in the metropole, while others argue that its significance has been exaggerated, because de facto slavery continued after this date. Whether it materially altered the conditions of servitude for Africans and Asians in Britain, Mansfield's decision did formalise emerging assumptions that slavery was incompatible with British subjecthood.
In December 1800, Baptist missionary Revd William Carey received a letter from evangelical EIC army chaplain and future vice-provost of Fort William College, Revd Claudius Buchanan, asking for his advice about the best way to put a stop to sati in India. Recording the event in his diary, Carey's colleague William Ward remarked that ‘Mr. Buchanan says that he is as anxious about this as Mr. Wilberforce is about the slave trade.’ Buchanan later provided Wilberforce with information about the number of satis in Bengal, gleaned from Carey and Ward's 1803 survey of the rite's prevalence in the area around Calcutta, while Wilberforce in turn referenced Buchanan in his speech on India in the House of Commons in 1813. Ward's brief diary entry, and the connections and correspondences that radiate out from it, provide a glimpse of the complex personal interconnections that linked evangelical EIC employees, missionaries and abolitionists in Britain and India within wider webs of colonial humanitarianism: ‘the complex cartography of philanthropic connection’, to use Lambert and Lester's phrase, through which information and ideas about the colonies were constructed and transmitted in evangelical circles in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As Brian Pennington notes, few men at the turn of the nineteenth century had as much influence on how British Christians imagined India's Hindu population as William Ward and Claudius Buchanan, both of whom were prolific in their literary productions condemning Hindu religion and society.
The involvement of European chartered trading companies and private entrepreneurs in purchasing, owning and trafficking Indian slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has been largely been overshadowed, at the time and since, by the European imperial nations' more intensive and notorious activities in the Atlantic. As Richard B. Allen points out, histories of the French, Dutch and British East India Companies make scant reference to their involvement in slave-trading, and studies that address the incorporation of Indian slaves as items of commerce or sources of labour for European mercantilism and empire-building are rare. When acknowledged at all, slavery in colonial India is usually presented as an indigenous institution, whose roots were deeply embedded in local social, cultural and religious custom, rather than European commercial, mercantilist or capitalist networks. This dissociation between Indian forms of slavery and European colonial practice is not new, of course: in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain the assumption was that ‘chattel slavery either did not exist in India, or only existed in a limited degree which hardly concerned white men’. Thus, Indian slavery has been distanced from colonial society and commerce, and located instead within traditional, pre-colonial Indian economies of domestic and agricultural production. In the process, both the transformative impact that colonialism had on these ‘traditional’ structures and the connection between European slave-trading and wider histories of European imperial expansion have been elided. Yet, European commerce in Indian slaves was integral to the development of colonial societies in the Indian Ocean, and was connected to wider networks of trade and empire around the world.
In laying the varied but momentous topics contained in this volume before a British public, the author's avowed intention is, to awaken our national sympathies on behalf of the victims and devotees of superstition, whose cause he pleads. Some years since, a few powerful voices roused the slumbering energies of Britain to survey the horrors of the slave trade. In favour of the injured Africans, petitions assailed the legislature from every quarter and, in the memorable year of 1807; the death warrant of this abominable traffic was signed. The shriek of the Hindoo widow from the burning pile, the imploring groans of the afflicted about to be plunged into the Ganges, and the expiring sighs of the miserable victims perishing beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, though uttered in India, are heard in Britain, and solicit the generous aid which Africa experienced at her hands. The cause which the author advocates has a claim upon British humanity and justice scarcely inferior to that which Wilberforce pleaded in the senate, Granville Sharp in our courts of justice, and Clarkson before a sympathizing public, and if followed up with the same spirit of serious perseverance, there can be little doubt that it will ultimately be crowned with similar success.
Walking through the Liverpool International Slavery Museum, one is struck by the force of the commonly accepted master-narrative of British slavery and abolition. The exhibits move seamlessly from idyllic African origins, through capture, the march to the coast and the middle passage, to plantation or domestic labour, abuse, torture, punishment, resistance, abolition and emancipation, before finally concluding with a contemplation of this history's impact on Britain today. It brings this now notorious story alive for the visitor with artefacts, imagery and interactive technologies, yet for an ‘International’ slavery museum the exhibit seems oddly blinkered; all the slaves whose lives it traces are African, and they are all moving west. Other forms of slavery and other slave trades, both throughout history and around the world, are conspicuously absent, silenced by the overwhelming and overpowering horror of the transatlantic trade and New World plantation slavery. By concentrating only on the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas, the exhibit disconnects the Atlantic from the wider global networks of commerce, capital, labour and migration that characterised the period of European colonial expansion. It also privileges a single archetypal image of slavery characterised by ‘a figure of African descent bending over work in a field of sugar cane or cotton’. This image dominates the popular imagination and, as David Turley notes, provides two starting points for the study of slavery: that those who were enslaved were either racially or culturally alienated outsiders and that they laboured in large-scale agricultural production of staples that were often intended for sale at far-distant markets.
In March 1808, J. Richardson, EIC magistrate for Bundlekhund, wrote a detailed letter to the local judicial authorities in which he advocated the suppression of slavery throughout the EIC's territories. His intervention on this ‘subject of great importance to the cause of humanity, policy, morals and religion’ was prompted by the British parliament's recent ‘humane abolition of the slave trade’, which, he remarked, had ‘added lustre to the enlightened wisdom on the British senate, and enrolled, to the latest posterity, the name of Wilberforce amongst the benefactors of mankind’. Richardson, who was clearly influenced by abolitionist sentiment and Smithian ideas about free labour as the most efficient and rational method of capitalist production, put forward a comprehensive case for suppressing slavery, on both principled and practical grounds, arguing for a ban on the buying and selling of slaves, and for a declaration making all children born to slaves in India after a certain date free. Although the judges of the Nizamat Adalat, the chief criminal court of the Bengal Presidency, were initially moved by his letter to collect detailed opinions on the legal status of slavery from their Hindu and Muslim advisers, and even asked Richardson to outline his thoughts on how to ameliorate the practice in the light of these, the resulting draft regulation was not forwarded to government until 1816. The official explanation for this delay was ‘the difficulty of the subject, as well as the pressure of other business’—Indrani Chatterjee believes that Richardson's minute was deliberately suppressed as too problematic.
In June 1840, abolitionists and their sympathisers from across Britain and America met at the first World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Having finally achieved full emancipation for slaves in the British colonies in August 1838, the anti-slavery movement turned its attention to ‘the universal Abolition of Slavery and the Slave trade’. To this end, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which sponsored the conference, had been formed in 1839. It would become one of the most enduring human rights organisations in history, and continues today as the Anti-Slavery Society. Around 400 British and Irish delegates attended the convention, with more than fifty others coming from around the world: from places as diverse as Canada, Mauritius, Haiti, Sierra Leone and especially the United States. Among their number was Professor William Adam, a former British missionary who had spent many years living in India. On the evening of 13 June, he delivered a lecture to the delegates in which he highlighted the continued existence of slavery in the EIC's Indian territories and called for renewed abolitionist efforts to complete the work of emancipation in the British Empire. ‘After the labour and sacrifices of the people of Great Britain’, he remarked, ‘by which it has been supposed by many, that the crime and curse of slavery had been for ever banished from the British dominions; it may well excite astonishment and indignation to learn the fact of the existence of slavery under the British government in India.’
When tried for slave-trafficking in 1789, Danish captain Peter Horrebow expressed his surprise that such activity should be illegal, given that owning slaves was permitted in British India and public sales and auctions regularly took place in Calcutta. The EIC's 1774 prohibition of slave-trafficking allowed the sale or transfer of existing slaves, providing this was formalised by a written deed. The proclamation of 1789 similarly focused on preventing the export trade rather than interfering with domestic slavery in European or Indian homes. Moreover, when discussions about domestic and agricultural slavery in India began in the early nineteenth century, these were overwhelmingly conducted in the context of indigenous social and labour practices, rather than of the domestic economies of colonial European households. Yet many Europeans, including Britons, held Indian, African and Malay slaves as domestic servants in their homes in late eighteenth-century India. ‘[H]ardly a man or woman exists in a corner of this populous town’, Sir William Jones wrote of Calcutta in 1785, ‘who hath not at least one child slave.’ This ‘conspicuous presence of domestic slaves in Anglo-Indian households’, historian Margot Finn reminds us, ‘emerges clearly from an array of late-eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century manuscript sources. Physically visible, economically vital and philosophically perplexing, domestic slaves animate the archive of inventories, wills and private letters that documents social life in India under Company rule.’ They also appear, sometimes obliquely, in newspaper advertisements, judicial pronouncements and the official correspondence of EIC representatives.