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Two Birkbeck academics shortlisted for prestigious 2023 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize

The prize celebrates the best non-fiction on any historical subject.  

Dr Kojo Koram (left) and Dr Aviah Sarah Day (right)
Dr Kojo Koram (left) and Dr Aviah Sarah Day (right)

Dr Kojo Koram, Senior Lecturer in Law, and Dr Aviah Sarah Day, Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, have been announced as two of six authors to have their books shortlisted for 2023 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. The annual prize is awarded to a book of high literary merit that covers any historical period. 

Uncommon Wealth: Britain and the Aftermath of Empire by Kojo Koram delves into the little known and shocking history of how Britain treated its former non-white colonies after the end of empire. It is the story of how an interconnected group of British capitalists enabled horrific inequality across the globe, profiting in colonial Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.  

The judging panel said: Uncommon Wealth is a rare treasure. It shows us, in lucid, engaging prose, how our current economic crises in Britain and inequalities across the globe are bound up in and impacted by the aftermath of empire.” 

Abolition Revolution by Dr Aviah Sarah Day and Shanice Octavia McBean is a guide to abolitionist politics in Britain, drawing out rich histories of resistance from rebellion in the colonies to grassroots responses to carceral systems today. The authors argue that abolition is key to reconceptualising revolution for our times. 

Dr Aviah Sarah Day said of being shortlisted: "My co-author and I are both excited to hear that Abolition Revolution has been shortlisted for this prestigious prize". 

The judging panel commented: “Abolition Revolution is a fast-paced book about an unfinished struggle that runs from policing and prisons to schools and workplaces, and into communities and everyday life. It rewires our collective understanding of the enduring historical connections between racism, criminalisation, and imperialism. In doing so, it offers a radical vision of hope and liberation.”  

The winner will be announced on 22 November 2023 at a ceremony held at the Bodleian Libraries’ Weston Library in Oxford. This year’s judging panel for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize is chaired by academic Dan Hicks. He is joined by environmental humanities scholar and art historian Sria Chatterjee, and artistic director of the Migration Museum, Aditi Anand.  

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