The UWI Museum & the UWI Mona’s Department of History & Archaeology birthed it’s UWI and the 1960s series in 2015 to explore the regional university’s connections with the iconic people and philosophies emerging from this decade of ferment, a half century ago.
CLR James is the focus of our first 2017 event – a local premiere of the new WORLDwrite documentary on this Caribbean activist and author. If you’re in Jamaica on Friday January 27 you can join us at the N1 lecture theatre on the UWI Mona campus. We’re showing the film, with a brief introduction by CLR James Literary Executor Prof Robert Hill; and we’re preparing a small pop-up exhibition to accompany the film.
So here’s the real point of today’s post. In digging for information on James’ impact, especially on the UWI’s 1960s cohort, I came upon this presentation that dynamic UWI alum and internationally known activist economist Dr Norman Girvan gave at a seminar Remembering James, at UWI St Augustine in 2000. It’s right to the point. Please check on the link and check it out: http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/remembering-clr-james.pdf
Girvan, himself a Caribbean man to remember, said of James: “In a life that spanned nine of the century’s decades (1901-1989), he embraced most of its great social movements with passion, eloquence and brilliant insights.”
A student of the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI) matriculating in 1959, Girvan recalls that James gave an Open Lecture on The Artist in the West Indies, intertwining art, literature, politics, philosophy, history and economics and asserting that the development of West Indian artists would be in direct proportion to their relevance and relationship to West Indian society, which therefore had a benefit to gain from supporting them within the region. This at a time when most West Indian artists – writers like James included – had to go north to seek a living.
Girvan’s lively chronicle, from within, of James’ influence on a generation of Caribbean thinkers, activists and professionals, is a true find.