Pixel Tracker

Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 7:24 am | Fair 47º


Black Studies Conference at UCSB to Highlight Experiences of West Indian Immigrants

On June 22, 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at the port of Tilbury in Essex, England. On board were 492 passengers from Jamaica, all seeking to establish new lives in the United Kingdom.

Roberto Strongman
Roberto Strongman

Among the passengers were calypso musicians Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), Lord Beginner (Egbert Moore), Lord Woodbine (Harold Adolphus Philips) and Mona Baptiste, as well as 60 or so Polish women displaced during World War II. Many intended to stay for a few years, but the majority settled permanently in what would become their new home country.

Beginning Monday, May 19, the Department of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara will host a two-day interdisciplinary conference examining the ways in which that first mass arrival signaled a change in the social history of both Britain and the West Indies and impacted demographics in the United Kingdom.

The conference is titled “The Windrush Roundtable: An Emerging Caribbean Studies Scholars’ Symposium Commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the First Large Arrival of West Indian Immigrants to the UK on the MV Empire Windrush.” Beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the campus' MultiCultural Center, it is free and open to the public.

“The voyage of the Windrush allows us to understand the origins and effects of Caribbean migration to the UK,” said Roberto Strongman, associate professor of black studies at UCSB and the conference organizer. “On a symbolic level, it functions as a reiteration of the middle passage from Africa to the Americas and of the mythical beginning of the black British population.

“The experiences of these West Indians, their initial hopes, their disappointments, their difficult encounters with English customs, and discriminations in housing and employment,” he continued, “provides us with a unique perspective from which to understand the experience of African Americans and other black populations in the Western Hemisphere.”

Noted Jeffrey Stewart, UCSB professor and chair of black studies, “Often unacknowledged is the intellectual change that brought forth generations of diasporic intellectuals who redefined what it meant to be British and West Indian.”

The conference will showcase the scholarship of 10 UCSB graduate and postdoctoral students in the field of Caribbean studies, as well as that of researchers from around the country.

Among the events will be a dramatic reading of the 1946 BBC radio program “Caribbean Voices” at 2:15 p.m. Monday, followed by a screening of the 1944 wartime newsreel documentary film “West Indies Calling," which examines West Indian labor in the UK.

Especially noteworthy, according to Stewart, will be the first West Coast showing of “The Stuart Hall Project,” a film directed by John Akomfrah. A talk by Dick Hebdige, professor of art and of film and media studies at UCSB, will accompany the screening. The project honors Stuart Hall, the founder of Black Cultural Studies in England, whom Hebdige considers “a mentor.”

Other participants include Carole Boyce Davies of Cornell University, Aisha Khan of New York University and Lucy Wilson of Loyola Marymount University. Khan and Davies, both from Trinidad, will present keynote addresses on their recent work on black Atlantic migrations. In addition, Wilson will be honored with the Windrush Award for outstanding contributions to the field of Caribbean studies.

More information about the conference, including a complete schedule of speakers and their topics, is available by clicking here.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.