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The Department of History welcomes Matthew Smith, University College London, for the Robert F. Allabough 1934 Memorial Lecture in History on Monday, November 7, 2022, at 5 p.m. in Haldeman 041.
Disruptions: Slavery, Rebellion, and the Revival of History in the Caribbean Atlantic
Professor of History
Director, Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership
University College London
This talk reflects on how the difficult histories of slavery and resistance have been inscribed into Caribbean national histories. Events previously given limited attention have over the course of the transition to freedom and then independence, assumed greater significance. Through a close look at changes in popular and state commemorations of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (1865)—a major event in Caribbean history-- it will examine how historical revisionism has served contrasting purposes in postcolonial Jamaica's construction of a national story.
Matthew J. Smith is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership. Prior to UCL, he worked many years at the University of the West Indies, Mona in Jamaica where he was Professor of Caribbean History. His research is pan-Caribbean in scope with special interest in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century histories of Haiti and Jamaica. Among his publications is Liberty, Fraternity, Exile: Haiti and Jamaica After Emancipation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), a comparative study which explored the post-slavery intersections between the two Caribbean neighbours with a focus on overlapping narratives and shared migration histories. His earlier book, Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict and Political Change, 1934-1957 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009) studied the activities of radical political groups that emerged after the US Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) and prior to the establishment of the dictatorship of François Duvalier in 1957. Among his current research projects is a study of the representations and legacies of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica in 1865, and a social history of Jamaican popular music since the 1950s.