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Nicholas Bell-Romero

Nicholas Bell-Romero

Legacies of Enslavement project Research Fellow


Nicolas Bell-Romero is completing a PhD in early American history at the University of Cambridge. His dissertation is titled 'The Politics of Epithets in the American Revolution, 1763-87'. Far from throwaway insults, this thesis and book project shows that epithets, such as 'patriot' or 'American', were important titles and identity terms that represented the standards and social values that the inhabitants of both Britain and America thought they should strive toward. Due to their importance, the Revolution was engulfed in a war over words as contemporaries, including white women, indigenous peoples, and African-descended persons, battled over who merited specific epithets. Through an examination of these keywords in a variety of printed and material sources, this project reorients how scholars discuss the themes of allegiances, identity, and equality in the Revolutionary period.

This research expertise, which combines elements of social, cultural, and intellectual history, will be applied in his role as a postdoctoral research associate for the legacies of enslavement inquiry. He will use his archival knowledge of North American slavery and abolition to examine the education of slaveholders (including three signatories to the Declaration) at Cambridge, the University’s central role in global knowledge networks that underpinned and perpetuated enslavement, and the role of Cambridge abolitionists in creating a narrative that attacked 'American slavery', but, in framing enslavement as an 'American' problem, allowed Britons to distance themselves from culpability for the British Empire’s worst excesses, including Caribbean slavery and Britain’s role in the Atlantic slave trade.