Discomforting Quaker History

9 May 2022 - 9 May 2022
14:30 - 20:30

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Quakers look to their history for inspiration and ideas – but history is not simple and it is important to understand unethical Quaker actions as well. We are seeking contributions from researchers working on these uncomfortable areas.

This seminar is primarily an opportunity for researchers to present their work. If you would like to contribute, please read our full call for contributions (see below in ‘more details’). We also welcome people interested in any aspect of Quaker history or those who are exploring related topics – power and privilege, racism, hypocrisy, prejudice, discrimination, and so on – in the present day.


The details of this event will depend on the contributions offered. We hope to have at least two sessions of two hours, live on Zoom, during the afternoon and evening (UK time). Presenters will be asked to speak for up to 20 minutes, after which we will have 10 minutes for questions and discussion before the next paper. If we receive many contributions, we may add a third session during the afternoon.

Call for contributions

Quakers look to their history for inspiration and ideas – but history is not simple and it is important to understand unethical Quaker actions as well. We are seeking contributions from researchers working on these uncomfortable areas.

Possible topics include:

  • Quaker involvement in the enslavement of people, including indirect Quaker support for enslavement through parts of the chocolate trade and similar businesses
  • Quaker involvement in weapons manufactory, alcohol production, or other business ventures which are in opposition to Quaker ethics
  • Quaker racism, support for imperialism and colonisation, forced conversion, suppression and genocide of native people, and involvement in cultural damage
  • Any form of discrimination related to gender, disability, age, immigration status, socioeconomic class, or similar in historic Quaker communities
  • Subtle forms of oppression including those which exist alongside explicit claims of equality, such as microaggressions within a progressive culture

Presentations may discuss these topics in general or focus on one or two specific examples. Examples can be drawn from any period of Quaker history and anywhere in the world.

We welcome researchers from all backgrounds, including independent researchers and those without formal qualifications. If you have a relevant idea but are new to or unsure about presenting, please contact Rhiannon Grant for an informal conversation about what is involved.

Contributors are asked to speak for up to 20 minutes. You can use slides if you wish. The sessions will not be recorded but there will be an opportunity to circulate a document to participants by email afterwards.

Please send Rhiannon Grant a description of your presentation, of around 150 to 200 words, by Monday 14th March, by email: Rhiannon.grant@woodbrooke.org.uk.

This course will involve:

DiscussionSpeakerZoom Session

Accessibility info:

On the booking form, there is a chance for you to let us know about any accessibility or communication adjustments that will enable you to participate more fully in the course. Automated Zoom closed captions are available for all live sessions but if you feel you require more accurate closed captioning please email us directly in addition to booking.

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