Research Summary and Profile
- Research interests:
- Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Contemporary History, Modern History
- Africa, Caribbean, England, United Kingdom
- Summary of research interests and expertise:
Dr Banton is former Principal Records Specialist (Diplomatic and Colonial) at The National Archives of the UK (TNA), and an historian with a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in February 2017.
Dr Banton is an expert on the records of the British Colonial Office and author of the standard research guide, Administering the Empire, 1801-1968; A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK, a revised edition of which was commissioned by the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London published in 2015 and reissued as an open access online edition in September 2020. This new edition, as well as providing a general update, highlights the so-called ‘migrated archives’ removed from 37 UK dependencies at independence, concealed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) until 2011, and released to The National Archives in 2012/13. Dr Banton’s recent research, publications and speaking engagements have focused on policy and practice with respect to such removals, and the continuing disagreements and inconclusive discussions regarding the legal status and appropriate disposal of the documentation between TNA and the FCO over many decades. She is contributing to a global debate in her practical work with the International Records Management Trust, the Kenya National Archives and other archivists, historians and lawyers to explore means of securing the return of documentation to the independent successor states, or the provision by the UK Government of free digital copies. She is author of a position paper on the subject adopted by the Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers in 2017, and is a member of the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage (EGSAH) set up by the International Council on Archives in 2016. In this latter capacity she organised a panel to present EGSAH's work, and to explore the 'displacement' of archives, and solutions to longstanding claims for restitution, for the ICA annual conference in Yaounde, Cameroon, in November 2018, and edited a bibliography of titles relevant to EGSAH's work published on the ICA website.in December 2020 and regularly updated.
In March 2022, following Dr Banton's lectures on the FCO 'migrated archives' delivered to MA students at University College London, a Migrated Archives Working Group was set up by the Centre for Critical Archives and Records Management Studies at UCL. In Autumn 2022 the group organised a five-part weekly online seminar and workshop series to raise awareness and activate British archivists on issues connected to the repatriation of the migrated archives, to centre the perspectives of archivists and scholars from affected countries, and to hear about examples of repatriation of colonial records. Speakers came from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe, India, South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands, Suriname and Indonesia.
More generally Dr Banton has research interests in the administrative history of the Colonial Office, record-keeping there and within the former colonial governments, and the Office’s supervision of the developing legal regulation of ‘free’ labour after the 19th century abolition of slavery in the British Empire.
- Project summary relevant to Fellowship:
Dr Banton has presented her work on migrated archives to the Institute conference ‘The Secret Archive: What is the significance of FCO’s “Migrated Archives” and “Special Collections”?’ (May 2014), organised with Dr Susan Williams, also a senior research fellow; to the Institute workshop ‘The Hidden History of Decolonisation: What do the “migrated archives” reveal about British withdrawal from Empire?’ (February 2015); to annual conferences of SCOLMA: the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa (July 2013) and the Society for Caribbean Studies (July 2014); to conferences at the University of East Anglia (May 2013) and the University of Bristol (July 2013); to the seminar series ‘Archives and Society’ at the Institute of Historical Research (March 2016), the launch at Liverpool University in March 2017 of the book Displaced Archives (James Lowry, ed., Routledge, 2017) in which she has a chapter and to the conference 'Looted, Lost or Hidden: Archives and Politics' held in Oslo in March 2018. Most recently she contributed to the ICWS webinar 'The Hanslope Park 'migrated archives' and their impact on our understanding of the End of Empire' in June 2020. In June 2015 Dr Banton was a member of a committee convened at Leiden University to examine a PhD thesis proposing an archival model for work on the British migrated archives and a parallel Dutch collection. She has been consulted and interviewed by journalists from The Guardian, VICE News, Radiolab and other media.
Dr Banton’s other contributions to the life of the Institute include the organisation of a conference on Freedom of Information in the Commonwealth (with Dr Susan Williams) which led to publication in December 2015 of a special issue of The Round Table, ‘Freedom of Information in the Commonwealth’, edited by them with Professor Elizabeth Shepherd of University College London, and launched by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in New Delhi (December 2015) and at Senate House, London (January 2016). A number of conferences and other events organised with Dr Williams, and in collaboration with the United Nations Association Westminster, include the international conference ‘”Sowing the Whirlwind”: nuclear politics and the historical record’ (July 2015) and the podcasts 'Climate change challenges: the Commonwealth path towards COP 26' (March 2021) and 'The UN inquiry into Hammarskjold's death: last chance to reach the truth' (September 2021)..
Dr Banton is a member of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Senate House Library advisory board. During the course of her fellowship she has also served on a number of committees and advisory bodies of external organisations, most recently the Advisory Council of the Institute of Latin American Studies, also part of the School of Advanced Study, (2012-15) and the Advisory Board of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project at University College London (2013-15).
- Publication Details
Date Details 21-Jun-2023 PHILIPPE SANDS, The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2022. ISBN 9781476618120, £16.99
Review for Family and Community History
01-Jul-2022 Review of Corrine Fowler, Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections, Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2020
Review published in Family & Community History, Vol. 25/2, July 2022
14-Dec-2020 Displaced Archives and Shared Archival Heritage: A Bibliography
Editor of a bibliography of published works relating to migrated or displaced archives, the examination of international problems arising from such historical actions, and the solutions found. It was created for the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage of the International Council on Archives and for the wider international archival and historical community.
01-Oct-2020 Review of Trevor Burnard, The Atlantic in World History: 1490-1830, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. ISBN 978 1 3500 7352 4
Review published in Family & Community History, Vol. 23/3, October 2020
11-Sep-2020 Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK
This Guide, published first in 2008 and revised and updated in 2015, is now available as an open access online edition.
01-Jun-2020 Shared Archival Heritage: an exploration of problems and solutions: report of the EGSAH panel at the Yaoundé Conference
Report of the Round Table presented by the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage at the annual conference of the International Council on Archives, Yaoundé, Cameroon, November 2018. Comma, International Journal on Archives.
01-Apr-2020 History concealed, history withheld: the story of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 'Migrated Archives' and the decades-long international search for redress
Article for Archives: the Journal of the British Records Association
01-Oct-2018 Review of David Thomas, Simon Fowler, Valerie Johnson, The Silence of the Archive, London: Facet Publishing, 2017. ISBN 978 1 78330 155 3
Review published in Family & Community History, Vol. 21/3, October 2018
01-Jul-2018 Precious artefacts versus ‘dusty files’
Opinion piece for The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.
01-Jul-2017 Review of The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Ian Cobain
Review published in The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Issue 3, 2017
20-Jun-2017 Review of The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Ian Cobain
Archives and Manuscripts, Vol. 45, issue 2
01-Mar-2017 Displaced Archives in The National Archives of the United Kingdom
in James Lowry (ed.) Displaced Archives (Routledge, 2017)
01-Dec-2015 Freedom of Information and the Commonwealth
Special issue of The Round Table: the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs edited by Mandy Banton, Susan Williams and Elizabeth Shepherd (December 2015).
31-Jul-2015 Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK
01-Nov-2014 'Record-keeping for good governance and accountability in the Colonial Office: an historical sketch',
Essay for festschrift for Dr Anne Thurston, Director of the International Records Management Trust.
01-Oct-2014 The Records of Empire
in the Black history month supplement of New African, October 2014
01-Apr-2014 Review of Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain by Catherine Hall
In Family and Community History, volume 17/1, April 2014
01-Mar-2014 'Obscured if not hidden: records relating to Africa in the National Archives of the UK (TNA)
In African Research and Documentation, No. 123, 2013
01-Dec-2013 ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’: The concealment and release of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘migrated archives’
Comma: International Journal on Archives.
01-Jun-2012 ‘Destroy? ‘Migrate’? Conceal? British Strategies for the Disposal of Sensitive Records of Colonial Administrations at Independence’
The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History,
Volume 40, Issue 2, pp. 321-335
01-Oct-2011 review of The Creolisation of London Kinship: Mixed African-Caribbean and White British Extended Families, 1950–2003 by Elaine Bauer. Amsterdam University Press, 2010.
in Family & Community History, Vol. 14/2, October 2011
01-Apr-2011 review of Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century by Sarah M S Pearsall (Oxford University Press, 2008)
in Family and Community History, vol. 14/1, April 2011
01-Jan-2011 Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: a guide to the records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK
revised and reprinted 2011
01-Nov-2010 review of Untold Histories: Black people in England and Wales during the period of the British slave trade, c. 1660-1807, by Kathleen Chater (Manchester University Press, 2009)
in Family and Community History, vol. 13/2, November 2010
01-May-2010 review of the Oxford Companion to Black British History, edited by David Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones (Oxford University Press, 2007)
in Family and Community History, 13/1, May 2010
01-Mar-2010 The Commonwealth at 60: a note on its history and some UK records
in Newsletter of the Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers, issue 46, Spring 2010
01-Oct-2009 'Expatriate' or 'Migrated' Archives: the role of the UK Archivist
in Archives [the journal of the British Records Association], vol. xxxiv, no. 121, October 2009
2009 The 'Taint of Slavery': The Colonial Office and the Regulation of Free Labour
in Keith Hamilton and Patrick Salmon (eds), Slavery, Diplomacy and Empire: Britain and the Suppression of the Slave Trade, 1807-1975 (Sussex Academic Press, 2009)
2008 Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK
London: Institute of Historical Research (2008, revised and reprinted 2011)
- Relevant Events
Date Details 16-Sep-2021 The UN Inquiry into Hammarskjöld’s death: Last chance to reach the truth?
Organiser, with Dr Susan Williams and the UNA Westminister Branch, of a webinar focusing on the ongoing UN inquiry into the death of its second general secretary in an unexplained plane crash.
27-Apr-2021 'The Strong Box of the Empire': can a 21st Century institution escape its imperial past?
Paper presented to the seminar series 'Instiitutions of Empire' at Leicester University
25-Mar-2021 6th ICARUS Croatia Days 2021
Joint paper on the work of the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage of the International Council on Archives and new bibliograpy edited by Dr Banton. Zoom event.
16-Feb-2021 Exploring ICwS online resources (II): British Documents on the End of Empire Project.
Contribution to ICwS seminar
19-Jun-2020 The Hanslope Park ‘migrated archives’ and their impact on our understanding of the End of Empire.
Contribution to ICwS seminar
27-Nov-2018 Shared Archival Heritage: an exploration of problems and solutions
Organiser of a panel presented by the Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage (EGSAH) of the International Council on Archives at the ICA annual conference, Yaoundé, Cameroon, November 2018
04-Jun-2018 'Displaced Archives/Shared Heritage: new approaches to old problems'
Paper presented to the seminar series organised by SCOLMA (the Library and Archives Group on Africa)
27-Mar-2018 'A culture of secrecy? - the management of records of Britain’s imperial past'
Paper presented to the conference 'Looted, Lost or Hidden: Archives and Politics', Oslo. The conference was a collaboration between Preus Museum (the National Museum of Photography); The National Archives of Norway; Department of Archives, Library and Information Sciences/Faculty of Social Sciences/OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, the e-journal www.tidsskriftetarkiv.no and the Publisher ABM-media.
23-Mar-2017 Displaced Archives in the National Archives of the United Kingdom
Presentation at the launch of Displaced Archives (ed. James Lowry, Routledge, 2017) at the University of Liverpool.
15-Mar-2016 Displaced Archives
Contribution to a seminar in the series 'Archives and Society', Institute of Historical Research, with James Lowry, University of Liverpool, and Vincent Hiribarren, Kings College London.
16-Jul-2015 Sowing the Whirlwind’: Nuclear Politics and the Historical Record
(with Dr Susan Williams and in collaboration with the United Nations Association Westminster Branch) Speakers included Dr. Akiko Mikamo, author of Rising from the Ashes: A True Story of Survival and Forgiveness from Hiroshima; Professor Peter Kuznick, director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University, Washington DC; Bruce Kent, Vice-President, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; and Joe Lauria, Wall Street Journal. The first four videos from the conference were posted on the SAS website on 3 September 2015, others to follow.
03-Jul-2015 Mau Mau
Recorded interview to Radiolab (broadcaster on the New York radio station WNYC)
20-Feb-2015 The hidden history of decolonization: What do the ‘migrated archives’ reveal about British withdrawal from Empire?
Paper on the 'migrated archives' presented to workshop held at ICWS
29-Jan-2015 Book launch: Henning Melber, Understanding Namibia
(with Dr Susan Williams) Book launch: Henning Melber, Understanding Namibia (C. Hurst & Co., 2014)
08-Sep-2014 The United Nations and the End of Empire: Revisiting the Role of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld
Organiser with Dr Susan Williams, ICWS, of a colloquium revisiting themes emerging from a conference held three years earlier on 'Dag Hammarskjold, the UN and the End of Empire'. Speakers were John Y Jones (Voksenasen, Oslo), Henning Melber (Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Uppsala), and Edward Mortimer (All Souls College, Oxford).
01-Sep-2014 Here’s What the British Government Has Been Hiding from You
Vice News, 1 September 2014
10-Jul-2014 'Why Join the Commonwealth'
Organiser, with Dr Susan Williams, of a colloquium to address the question 'Why join the Commonwealth'
03-Jul-2014 'Secrecy and Disclosure: FCO 'migrated archives' and 'special collections'
Presentation to the 38th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, University of Glasgow, 2-4 July 2014.
29-May-2014 The Secret Archive: What is the significance of FCO’s ‘Migrated Archives’ and ‘Special Collections’?
Organiser, with Dr Susan Williams, of one-day conference, and presenter of paper 'History concealed; justice denied? - (mis)management of the records of Britain’s colonial dependencies'
28-Feb-2014 Using The National Archives Colonial Records
Presentation to a one-day conference 'Experiences of World War One: strangers, differences and locality' organised by the British Association for Local History in conjunction with the Institute for Commonwealth Studies'.
16-Jul-2013 ‘Migrated archives’: an overview
Presentation to conference 'Connected Histories of Empire', University of Bristol
09-Jul-2013 Obscured if not hidden: records relating to Africa in the National Archives of the UK
Paper presented to the annual conference of SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)
16-May-2013 The British Colonial Office Archives
Presentation to 2-day 'Utopian Archives Workshop: Past and Futures', University of East Anglia, 16-17 May 2013
14-Jun-2012 ‘Secrecy and Disclosure: Freedom of Information and the Commonwealth’.
Organiser, with Dr Susan Williams
21-Feb-2012 Records relating to the Commonwealth in the UK National Archives
Presentation to the Bristol Commonwealth Society
14-Sep-2011 The Colonial Office and the regulation of labour in the British Empire, 1838-1919
International Conference, 'Governing Empires: Central Administration and the Making of Colonial Policies in the late 19th Century', Instituto de Historia, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Madrid, 14-16 September 2011.
02-Sep-2011 Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations, and the End of Empire
Organiser, with Dr Susan Williams and in collaboration with the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the Westminster branch of the United Nations Association and with the support of the Swedish Ambassador, of a one-day international conference held on 2 September 2001 to mark the 50th anniversary of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld's death.
08-Jul-2010 Sources for Caribbean studies in The National Archives of the UK
paper given at Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference, University of Southampton, 7-9 July 2010
26-Mar-2010 Free or unfree? Labour regulation in the 19th century Caribbean
talk as part of a one-day workshop on researching the Caribbean, organised by Dr Gemma Romain, University of Newcastle, and held at The National Archives, 26 March 2010
09-Dec-2009 'Constantly the subject of small struggles': the development of labour legislation in the British Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries
paper given to Institute of Commonwealth Studies Research Seminar, 9 December 2009