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Responses to the Zong Massacre

The Zong massacre was the mass killing of more than 130 enslaved African people by the crew of the British slave ship Zong, in 1781. They were thrown overboard when the ship ran low on drinking water.

The ship's owners had taken out insurance on the lives of the enslaved Africans as "cargo"; and they now submitted a claim. When the insurers refused to pay, the resulting court cases held that, in some circumstances, the murder of enslaved Africans was legal, and insurers could be required to pay for those who had died.


At a subsequent appeal hearing, the judges ruled against the ship owners, due to new evidence that suggested the captain and crew were at fault.

The massacre was the subject of a famous painting  by J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (1840). We have created our own artistic responses - to the massacre, to Turner, and to other art works.

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