JIS News

Issues of freedom, resistance and the meaning of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807 are among topics being discussed by approximately 60 delegates from countries in Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean who are attending a Bicentenary Conference at the Half Moon Hotel in Rose Hall, Montego Bay.
The conference is being hosted by the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee (JNBC), in collaboration with the Society for Caribbean Research, Europe (SOCARE), under the theme: ‘Discourses of Resistance: Culture, Identity, Freedom and Reconciliation’. According to Chair of the JNBC, Professor Verene Shepherd, the conference was designed to bring scholars together, to discuss all issues related to slavery. “We are talking about issues of freedom, issues of resistance; we are talking about the contentious issue of the meaning of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic trade in 1807, because slavery did not end in 1807 and so people are debating that,” she said. “We will also be spending a lot of time talking about the history of Maroons in Jamaica, and that contentious issue of whether the Maroons were freedom fighters or collaborators with the system of slavery,” she added. Professor Shepherd told JIS News that the conference formed part of the commemorative activities of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in Africans. Commenting on the public response to the commemorative activities that have been taking place throughout the year, Professor Shepherd said that it took some time for Jamaicans to warm to the idea of the commemoration, but by the month of March, the JNBC began to get some support from both the private and public sectors. “We had government support, we had grass root support, we had support from the schools, tertiary institutions, the University of the West Indies, for example. So I think that now that we are coming towards the end, I think I can say that we have had a successful year,” she said. Professor Shepherd lamented the fact that a lot of the planned commemorative activities were held in Kingston, citing logistical challenges. She said that the staging of the conference in Montego Bay testified to the JNBC’s commitment to get all Jamaica involved.

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