Dr Jake Subryan Richards

Assistant Professor

Department of International History

Room No
English, French, Italian, Portuguese
Key Expertise
African Diaspora, Legal History, West Africa, Latin America, Caribbean

About me

*on Leave LT 2023*

Jake Subryan Richards is a historian of law, empire, and the African diaspora in the Atlantic world. His first book project analyzes the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade as a violent legal regime. In this story, confrontations between African captives and elites, British imperial agents, and the governments of Brazil and Spanish colonial Cuba – the two powers most involved in the nineteenth-century slave trade – drove abolition.

The first article from this project, in Past and Present, won the Royal Historical Society’s Alexander Prize (2019). Related research has won the D. C. Watt Prize from the Transatlantic Studies Association (2017) and the Morris L. Cohen Prize from the American Association of Law Libraries (2019). A second article was published in Comparative Studies in Society and History (2020).

Other research projects include using museum collections to tell histories of power and enslavement in the Atlantic world and the intellectual history of post-emancipation societies.

Richards was previously Assistant Professor of Modern British History at Durham University. He earned his PhD at the University of Cambridge (2020) and was a Visiting Fellow in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University on a US-UK Fulbright Commission Postgraduate Scholarship (2016-2017).

Expertise Details

Slavery; Empire; Sovereignty; Exchange; Violence; Comparative Methods; Ethnography

Teaching & supervision

Dr Jake Subryan Richards usually teaches the following courses in the Department:

At undergraduate level:

HY333: Enslavement, commerce, and political formations in West Africa, c. 1550-1836

At masters level:

HY486: Practicing Abolition in the Atlantic World, c. 1807-1870


News & media


New Position in Emerging Curators Group

Dr Richards has been awarded a position in the Emerging Curators Group 2021/22, organized by the British Art Network. He will undertake academic and curatorial research as part of an ongoing project with the University of Cambridge Museums.


Co-winner of the Prince Consort & Thirlwall Prize and Seeley Medal

Dr Richards received the prize from the Faculty of History at Cambridge University for best doctoral dissertation. His thesis was on how abolition laws shaped the opportunities and limitations for "liberated Africans" in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. Read more


New article

Dr Richards' latest article was released online by the Comparative Studies in Society and History journal. “The Adjudication of Slave Ship Captures, Coercive Intervention, and Value Exchange in Comparative Atlantic Perspective, ca. 1839-1870” argues that abolition as a legal field emerged from interactions between liberated Africans, British diplomatic and naval agents, and local political elites in Brazil and on the Upper Guinea Coast.


‘On Black Lives Matter’, Historical Association News, Autumn 2020, pp. 6-7

Colonial Mentalities’, History Today, 70:9, September 2020, pp. 90-93

Contributor, ‘The Zong Massacre’, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 26 November