The University of the West Indies (UWI) has partnered with the University of Glasgow (UoG) to offer a free online course to investigate the history of British colonial slavery in the Caribbean.
The course will take participants on a 350-year journey from West Africa and the Caribbean through to the UK’s Windrush Generation and the present day.
The four-week free online course, called History of Slavery in the British Caribbean 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.
The new course continues the partnership formalised last year when The UWI and The UoG signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which led to the two universities co-establishing a Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research (GCCDR).
Commenting on the collaboration, Co-Director of the joint UWI-Glasgow Centre, Professor Simon Anderson noted how pleased The 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.”
Dr Peggy Brunache, lecturer in the history of Atlantic Slavery at the UoG 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.
Dr 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, she said 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.
She noted the practice is insidiously active in the Commonwealth Caribbean as much as it is in the British metropole.
Dr Whyte added that the important thing about the 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.
The four-week free online course is now open for registration on the leading social learning platform, FutureLearn.com.
The site went live on Monday during Black History Month in the UK.