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Iredell Lecture 2009: "Was there white slavery in the seventeenth- century Caribbean?"

Date: 4 June 2009 Time: 5.30 pm

Department of History/ School of Law, Iredell Lecture 2009

Sir Hilary Beckles

Vice Chancellor, Principal and Professor of Economic and Social History

University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

"Was there white slavery in the seventeenth- century Caribbean?"

Venue: Lancaster University, Management School Building, Lecture Theatre 2

Born in 1955, Hilary Beckles was schooled in Barbados and is a twice graduate of Hull University, returning to Barbados to teach at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill. In 1993 he became the youngest professor in the history of the UWI, and he has been Vice Chancellor of the University since 2002.

His reputation as a prominent scholar of early colonialism in the West Indies was made by his work on the relationship between white and black labour in the seventeenth century and the conjecture that indentured servitude was proto-slavery, paving the way for the mass enslavement of Africans in the triangular slave trade that developed in the latter 1600s. As such, it centres on a debate about commodity, chattel and the notion of personal and real property. He is the foremost scholar of the history of Barbados, and has also worked extensively on the history of Jamaica.

Just some of his publications include Natural rebels: A social history of enslaved black women in Barbados (1990), A history of Barbados: from Amerindian settlement to nation-state (1990), Black rebellion in Barbados: the struggle against slavery, 1627-1838 (1984), White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627-1715 (1989), '"A riotous and unruly lot": Irish indentured servants and freemen in the English West Indies'.

More recently, he has been a scholar and promoter of cricket in the West Indies, an energetic ambassador for UWI, and a political activist in the difficult and often dangerous world of Caribbean politics. On a world stage he is a member of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project and is principal consultant for resource material in the schools' programme, Consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme and an advisor to the UN World Culture Report. Sir Hilary was knighted in 2007, by the Government of Barbados, for his distinguished service in the field of education, particularly at the university level and his dedication to the furtherance of arts and sports, especially cricket.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Law and Society, History, Human Rights Forum, Law


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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