Ninth Emancipation lecture

Members of the public are invited to attend the ninth lecture in the 2013 series The Emancipation Project, 1838 to 1937, hosted by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, the University of the West Indies’ Department of History and Philosophy, and the National Cultural Foundation.

The lecture will take place on May 9 at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed and will be delivered by Dr. Tara Inniss. Her topic will be Beyond the Hothouse: The Crisis of Healthcare Provision after Emancipation in Barbados and she will examine how Emancipation “precipitated an immediate, acute and enduring health crisis when the social institution of slavery disintegrated after 1838 in Barbados”.

She will discuss how during the Apprenticeship period, 1834 to 1838, customary access to health care provision on plantation “hothouses” or medical facilities was threatened, with freed children under the age of six years being the most obvious targets of the revocation of food allowances, childcare and medical services.

Those who attend the lecture will learn how in the immediate post-Emancipation period, colonial health policy tended to be limited to the protection of the island’s ports, trade and military installations.

When cholera swept through the island in 1854, taking the lives of over 20,000 persons, the colonial government started to take public health more seriously, but with very few tangible results that would vastly reduce the high rates of morbidity and mortality within the population. Epidemic disease continued to plague the island well into the 20th century.

After 1838, the economic distress and the declining profitability of the sugar industry stimulated a tide of destitution among the labouring classes, while the lack of affordable medical services and poor sanitation triggered high rates of mortality in the island for more than 100 years. These high rates of mortality and their causes will be explored in the lecture.

Inniss is a lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of the West Indies. The areas of focus for her teaching and research include history of medicine, history of social policy, and heritage and social development.

The final lecturer in the series is Dr. Marcia Burrowes, who will speak on the topic Patterns of Black Culture on May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.

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