Ideas Come From SOMEWHERE! Genesis of the Confrontations Exhib ‘Feedback Wall’

Activism involves engagement with issues and people in society. It means standing up and speaking up! So, if you accept that position, what is it you have to say?

That is the idea behind our Feedback Wall, in the UWI Museum’s exhibition: CONFRONTATIONS – UWI Student Protest and the Rodney Disturbance of 1968. Jump to the end for more about that!

Interest from visitors – especially young visitors – has been high, with an interesting range of responses. Museum Assistant Samantha Campbell has been looking at that and we’ll share her observations next week. But first a quick look at the genesis of the idea – in a pre-Museum ID conference workshop in London, UK, 2016. Workshop participants were doing rapid fire project development based on issues arising in an actual or hypothetical exhibition. One group was caught by the UWI Museum Curators brief description of a proposed 2018 exhibition focusing on a 1968 student protest over the Jamaican government’s banning of activist history lecturer, Dr Walter Rodney.

A diagram quickly captured some of the issues impacting the demonstration and debate; the actors and the feelings engaged. With only minutes to brainstorm and realize a product, using a handful of craft items, the group honed in on the importance of visitors engaging with and formulating an activist response to the exhibition. That could be done through the action of making a relevant statement on a miniature placard, recalling something some university students might have carried a half-century before.

That idea was the germ of our Feedback Wall. The messages that have been left say something about the enduring and the current issues facing a range of persons in society. Some may also reflect a trend that has been flagged by persons of various ages but who share a common concern – that activism appears lacking in the current time; that if persons are willing to stand up and speak up, it is most often because an issue impacts them personally, rather than for the good of the society as a whole.

Maybe that is also a good topic for comment!

The Confrontations exhibition offers a timeline of significant instances of UWI Student Protest from the first recognized instance in 1960; and a specific focus on the Rodney events of 1968: his own activities and agenda during ten months as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the students’ response to his October 15, 1968 banning. The exhibition runs until December 20 and re-opens January 2, 2019. The UWI Museum is in the UWI Regional Headquarters, Mona, Jamaica. Opening Hours are 10am – 4pm, weekdays excluding public holidays.

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