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Barbados hosts African Diaspora seminar

Barbadians and delegates from abroad will have the opportunity to explore Our Freedom, Our Identity: Uncover, Recover, Discover when the 8th Annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference is held this month at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Presenters from the region, Africa and North America are expected to discuss a range of topics at the three-day conference, which will be held from September 17 to 19. The event will also feature some of Barbados’ most knowledgeable speakers – notably, keynote speaker, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles – who will address issues relevant to the African Diaspora.

Professor Alvin Thompson, who has authored books which examine slavery and colonialism, will address African Retentions in the Caribbean. This presentation will seek to explore how culture, music, song, language and folkways have helped preserve elements of Africa here in the region.

Black Resistance Music of the Diaspora will be the theme addressed by author and historian, Trevor Marshall, where he will deconstruct, examine and render in song the myriad lyrical outpourings of the Africans during the period of enslavement and the laments and resistance songs of their descendants after Emancipation and up to the present era; while Director of the Natural Heritage Department, Steve Devonish, will discuss Defining Heritage Spaces and Places.

This session will take a look at how tangible elements crucial to our culture are defined and the challenges faced to preserve this culture as Small Island Developing States.

Sir Hilary will discuss The First African Society in the Americas; Professor Pedro Welch, will speak on Recovering our Ancestral Links; while Director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Alissandra Cummins, will present The Presence of Absence: Interrogating and interpreting enslavement and emancipation in Historic Bridgetown, which will take into consideration the ongoing process of interrogation and interpretation of the archive, the architecture and the archaeology of absence, where the lives of black persons have been erased or obscured as part of a hegemonic process of appropriation and control, designed to exclude and silence the experience of slavery and its historical production.

The African Spirit in Our Tangible Heritage will be the focus of the Director of the Commission on Pan-African Affairs, Dr. Deryck Murray. This session will examine how the Western way of understanding the world has significantly influenced the descriptions, display and regard of tangible artefacts which were fashioned in the context of African societies.

Regional and international speakers will also make thought-provoking presentations on issues relevant to the African Diaspora.

These include African Spirituality in the Caribbean – Professor Maureen Warner-Lewis (Jamaica); Mute Memory: Letting Artifacts Speak – Fred Wilson (US); Road Marches of the Caribbean – Dr. Hollis Liverpool a.k.a. Chalkdust (Trinidad and Tobago); Black Immigrants in Latin America: Rowing Against the Tide – Dr. Elaine Rocha (Brazil).

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