CLAW/Avery Lecture (Nov 15): “A Usable Past: Debating the Slave Rebellion of 1816 and the Politics of History in Barbados (An Anthropological Perspective)”

Phil Scher, University of Oregon, Avery Research Center, McKinley Washington Auditorium, 6:00 pm.

Dr. Phil Scher presents his research on the politics of heritage and cultural identity in Barbados. In early March of the year 2000, a very public debate erupted across Barbados’ national newspapers regarding the identity of a designated Barbadian national hero: Bussa. The issue of who Bussa was, was embedded in a more controversial inquiry: Did Bussa play a significant leadership role in Barbados’ most important and signal slave uprising in 1816? What was and is at stake in such debates is, of course, much more than historical accuracy, however that might be interpreted. The debate in question represents only a part of a much larger field of historical production — the effects of which are felt broadly in a society whose feelings about history itself are notoriously complex. This talk is about not only the contestation of a particular historical narrative, but the effect such narratives have beyond the academy to the construction of a post-colonial nationalist mythos of origins with its attendant political priorities.


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