Bath is a gorgeous Georgian city. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that its history is as pleasant as its architecture. The evening began with some refreshments and drinks, before launching into an explanation of Bath’s connection to the slave trade. Nearby cities were also heavily implicated. Our speaker had read my blog, and specifically referenced our attempted walk to Bristol. Apparently Bristol was a huge port connected to the trade. And numerous individuals in Bath profited specifically from plantations. A lot of the discussion was history oriented, but I managed to comment with a bit of neuroscience, as there is research to suggest that when we dehumanize people, we literally do so at the level of the brain. Areas that respond to inanimate objects like rocks will activate, but not the areas that respond to fellow humans. It’s a disturbing insight into how atrocities are allowed to happen.
The second portion of the session was devoted to Andrew, who once again acted as our city guide. He took as to several different points around Bath, telling us about the history and the people involved. He was so engaging that I believe a couple of tourists briefly joined our group to take pictures. He ended by quoting some disturbing remarks of our own Nelson of Nelson house (the main academic building of the program). Many of us agreed that we should rename the building in Andrew’s honor.
The evening provided important insights into the reality of Bath. History and truth should not be forgotten, no matter how unpleasant.