Black History Month 2024 Keynote Lecture

Thursday, February 8, 2024 17:00to20:00
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building Tanna Schulich Hall, 527 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 1E3, CA

Join us in the celebration of another year of Black History Month at McGill!

Black History Month at McGill is organized by the Equity Team in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice-President (Academic). The 2024 edition will feature two main events in partnership with our University Libraries and Department of History and Classical Studies in the Faculty of Arts.

Black History Month 2024 Keynote Lecture

Thursday, February 8, 2024
5 PM – 8 PM

Elizabeth Wirth Music Building | Tanna Schulich Hall | 527 Sherbrooke Street West

The 2024 Keynote Lecture will feature Professor Melanie J. Newton, Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto who will deliver a lecture titled, This Mess of a Colonial Legacy”: Revolutionary Relationalities, Arrivant Statehood and Afro-Indigenous Futures. This event will be livestreamed and recorded here for guests to tune in virtually.

Click here to register.

Meet the Keynote Speaker

Melanie J. Newton is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Caribbean and Atlantic World History. Her publications include The Children of Africa in the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados in the Age of Emancipation (Baton Louisiana State University Press, 2008); “Returns to a Native Land? Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean” (Small Axe, vol. 41, July 2013, pp. 108-122) and “Counterpoints of Conquest: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Lesser Antilles and the Ethnocartography of Genocide,” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 79, no. 2, April 2022, 241-282. 

At the University of Toronto, she has served in various administrative roles, including Director of the Caribbean Studies Program and Chair of the Faculty of Arts and Science Academic Appeals Board. She bgean a three-year term as Associate Chair (Graduate) of the Department of History at the University of Toronto in July 2022. From 1996-98 she served as youth representative on the Barbados Constitution Review Commission, which recommended that Barbados move from its status as a constitutional monarchy to a republic. The government of Barbados took up the commission's recommendation in 2021. She is co-chair of the City of Toronto's Community Advisory Committee on the renaming of Dundas St. 

Keynote Lecture Abstract

"This lecture draws on Barbadian thinker Kamau Brathwaite to historicise the Garifuna and Maya peoples’ struggles to redefine their relationships with the post-plantation or ‘arrivant’ states of the Anglophone circum-Caribbean. The survival strategies of Indigenous Antilleans, Africans and their descendants created a terraqueous space of revolutionary relationality in the early colonial Caribbean. This posed a constant threat to imperial authority and defied the racial taxonomies on which European imperial systems of governance in the Atlantic World depended.

The analysis in this lecture situates these struggles at the heart of five centuries of imperial statecraft, which have produced the settler states of North America, practices of violent state-driven Black and Indigenous erasure in continental Latin America and the embattled, fragmented and precarious forms of arrivant sovereignty that followed independence in the Caribbean. I argue for the fundamental importance of these Afro-Indigenous, circum-Caribbean stories to any full historical account of Black and Indigenous relationalities and experiences with white supremacist, settler and neo-plantocratic governance in the Americas and the Atlantic World. These histories of Afro-Indigenous Caribbean co-presence, negotiation and place making are a necessary point of return from which to imagine a more hopeful future based on reparatory governance in the face of ongoing, state-driven, colonial practices of systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence."  


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