A new free online course, which investigates the history of British colonial slavery in the Caribbean, has been launched by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and University of Glasgow (UoG).
The four week course, called History of Slavery in the British Caribbean, takes participants on a 350-year journey from West Africa and the Caribbean through to the UK’s Windrush Generation and the present day.
It will be featured on FutureLearn.com.
Registration is open and classes will go live on Monday, October 12, during Black History Month in the UK.
“Its content will explore 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,” UWI and UoG said in a joint statement.
This course is a continuation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between both universities in 2019.
Commenting on the collaboration, Co-Director of the joint UWI-Glasgow Centre, Professor Simon Anderson noted how pleased UWI is that “the landmark MoU offers a significant foundation for institutional partnership and collaboration to build teaching, research and public education programmes, such as this one, that address the legacies of slavery.”
Drawing on the expertise of academics in the Caribbean, The History of Slavery in the British Caribbean includes UWI contributors, 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.”
From the University of Glasgow, Dr Peggy Brunache, lecturer in the history of Atlantic Slavery and Director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies along with Dr Christine Whyte, historian of West Africa and lecturer in Global History are the lead contributors on the course.
Brunache said: “The past is not over. The past is still the present. 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.”
“However, these structures of power remain infused into the very fabric of contemporary society, privileging those who identify as white and especially those with generational wealth. It’s as insidiously active in the Commonwealth Caribbean as much as it is in the British metropole.”
Whyte said: “The important thing about this course is its emphasis on British involvement in slavery, which was both long-lasting and significant to many aspects of British society and economy, and its focus on the words of the enslaved to describe their own experiences.”
UWI and UoG plan to partner in the future to offer a Master of Arts Programme in Reparatory Justice.