Dr Madge Dresser




Dr. Madge Dresser, F.R.H.S., R.S.A., is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West of England and Honorary Professor in Historical Studies at the University of Bristol. A graduate of UCLA, LSE and the University of Bristol, she has published and broadcast widely on the themes of slavery and its legacy in Britain. Much of her work uses Bristol as a base from which to explore the global themes of race, ethnicity and gender.

Born in Los Angeles but living in Britain since 1970, she has taught and researched about slavery at Virginia Commonwealth University and Colonial Williamsburg.   As a public historian she has participated in national and local debates and broadcasts on the memorialisation of slavery, including Rhodes Must Fall and the Edward Colston Memorial in Bristol.

It is fitting that Madge's talk takes place on stage at a venue currently named after one of Bristol's most famous philanthropic merchants and slave trader, Edward Colston. She hopes this talk will spark open discussion and insight into the legacies of slavery dotted around this city. 

Currently Madge is Bristol coordinator for Journey to Justice, a human rights charity of which she is a trustee. For TEDxBristol she will be reflecting on recent events in the U.S and the UK where complex and emotive narratives surrounding racial equality and white supremacist ideologies have dominated news headlines, social media feeds and on-street activism.

She’ll be examining what Charlottesville and the ‘statue’ controversies proliferating across the globe tell us about our understanding of our past and our present. And in an multi-cultural, multi-ethnic global community, how can we reconcile some of the deep divides and opinions that are now emerging and colliding?

Madge’s publications include:

Black and White on the Buses: the campaign against the colour bar in Bristol in 1963 ( 1987, 2007,2016), Slavery Obscured: the Social History of the Slave Trade in Bristol (2001, 2007, 2016),’Set in Stone? Statues and Slavery in London’, History Workshop Journal  (Autumn 2007),Ethnic Minorities and the City:Bristol 1000-2000 (with Peter Fleming), (20017), ‘Remembering Slavery and Abolition in Bristol’,  Slavery & Abolition, (June 2009)‘The Slavery and the British Country House (co-edited with Andrew Hann) (2013),Women and the City: Bristol 1373-2000 (2016)

I question the way too many people are not talking honestly about race, class and social justice in America and Britain - especially in the social media.