Dr Benjamin Wilkie

Research Fellow 2019 supported by The William Lind Foundation

Dr Benjamin Wilkie completed his PhD at Monash University, Australia, in 2014 and has since researched widely on the history of the Scottish diaspora. His first book, The Scots in Australia 1788-1938, was published in 2017. Ben has been elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, has been a Lecturer at Deakin University in Australia, and is an Associate of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studiesat the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Ben’s research at the University of Glasgow Library will consider part of the long history of Scotland’s relationship to central Africa. In particular, he is going to explore Scottish missionary and commercial activity in late-nineteenth-century Nyasaland, or modern-day Malawi, and how the Christian, ‘civilising mission’ of imperial commerce was particularly appealing in Scotland. This economic and missionary activity was crucial to the expansion of British imperial control over Nyasaland and the broader region.

This Fellowship will allow me to work with important records that help us to understand Scottish missionary and commercial activity in central Africa. What would become the African Lakes Corporation – the Livingstonia Central Africa Corporation – was established in 1878 by the Free Church with a view to abolishing slavery and replacing it with lawful commerce; the African Lakes Corporation became a key operator in Nyasaland. The records of the African Lakes Corporation have only been made available in the University of Glasgow Library’s collections in recent years, and the Visiting Fellowship will provide a rare opportunity to access them.