Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Society for Caribbean Studies Conference

The first SCS conference was held back in 1977, and the founding members - including Professors David Lowenthal, the late Richard Hart, Colin Clarke, Jean Besson, Gad Heuman, and Gertrud Aub-Buscher - have been recognized as Honorary Life Members.  The conference has continued to benefit over the years from the steady and supportive presence of these experienced academics.  

This year’s conference was seasoned with memories of conferences past, as well as our hopes and expectations for conferences to come. We were particularly happy to be able to launch Professor Jean Besson’s new book ‘Transformations of Freedom in the Land of the Maroons’ (Ian Randle Press) at our rum punch reception and conference dinner, at the Biscuit Factory. Professor Besson gave a fascinating presentation about the book’s contents and the detailed research behind it.

A wide range of papers were given by over 70 scholars, from the UK, the Caribbean, continental Europe and Japan. Panels ranged from A Caribbean Spin on Shakespeare, through to Africa’s Sons Under Arms: Race, Military Bodies and the British West India Regiments in the Atlantic world, 1795-1914, and Gender and Sexualities in the Caribbean. Professor Catherine Hall kicked the conference off with an excellent keynote presentation, entitled ‘Black slavery and white freedom revisited: Jamaica and England in the late C18’. Our Bridget Jones Travel Award winner this year was Wayne ‘Poonka’ Willock, a percussionist from Barbados. His presentation was informative and entertaining: he gave us a history of tuk music on the island, and ended with a live demonstration with audience participation. A great time was had by all!

Wayne ‘Poonka’ Willock and audience participation

The conference ended with a politically engaged and enthusiastic plenary panel, in which four papers were given on the subject ‘Politics and Philosophies of Reparation’, followed by a lively debate. For the first time this plenary was organised in commemoration of the contributions to Caribbean Studies of Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis.

SCS would very much like to thank CLACS for their support, particularly Diana Paton (who has a longstanding relationship with SCS), and Carolyn Taylor.