‘The past is not over’ – New free online course to probe history of British colonial slavery in the Caribbean launched

Mildred Europa Taylor October 09, 2020
Image via University of Glasgow

Academics at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Glasgow (UoG) have launched a new free online course exploring British colonial slavery in the Caribbean. The four-week course, called History of Slavery in the British Caribbean, will take participants on a 350-year journey from West Africa and the Caribbean through to the Windrush Generation and the present day, a statement from both universities said.

The course will be featured on the leading social learning platform, FutureLearn.com, and will go live on Monday, October 12, during Black History Month in the UK.

“The course will look at the renewed debate in the UK about the treatment of symbols of Britain’s colonial past and how the global Black Lives Matter protests have caused many to reflect on the country’s history of racism and its roots in slavery,” according to the UoG.

The course is a continuation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between both UWI and UoG in 2019. The following UWI historians have been named as contributors to the course: Dr Zachary Beier, Lecturer at the Mona Campus’ Department of History and Archaeology, Dr Tara Inniss from the Department of History and Philosophy at the Cave Hill Campus, and Dr Shani Roper, UWI Museum Curator at The UWI Regional Headquarters.

Beier said: “I thought this was a great opportunity to demonstrate how academic collaboration between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean is an important step in rectifying the history of exploitative and unbalanced relationships between these regions. Additionally, this course provided an opportunity to share information about significant historical archaeological research in the Caribbean islands and material culture collections stored at UWI.”

Lead contributors to the course from the UoG include Dr. Peggy Brunache, lecturer in the history of Atlantic Slavery and Director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies, and Dr. Christine Whyte, historian of West Africa and lecturer in Global History.

“The past is not over. The past is still the present,” Brunache said. “While the abolition of the slave trade and racial slavery occurred in the early 19th century, the structures of racial inequality and anti-black racism have never dissipated. Does that mean that every white British citizen is racist? Of course not.”

Registration for the multi-disciplinary course, which will also bring on board artists and descendants of enslaved Africans, is currently open.
The Caribbean has a rich presence of African cultures and personalities who added to history through their voice and actions against the slave trade, colonization, racism and many other black related issues.

In the wake of global anti-racism protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the U.S., monuments connected to slavery and colonialism have become the target of Black Lives Matter protesters across the world.

Caribbean nations recently joined calls to remove statues of colonial-era figures from public spaces. In Barbados, citizens are demanding the toppling of the statue of British naval commander and slavery sympathizer Horatio Nelson while those in the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago want that of Italian explorer Columbus removed.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 9, 2020


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