The Barbados Museum & Historical Society announced its next History Group Presentation—a lecture by C. Matthew Reilly: “West Indians in West Africa: The Barbadian Settlement of Crozierville, Liberia”—on July 11, 2018, at 6:00pm. The Barbados Museum & Historical Society is located at St. Ann’s Garrison, St. Michael, Barbados.
Description: In 1865 the Cora landed in Liberia carrying 346 Afro-Barbadians to assist in colonization efforts already underway as part of the Back to Africa movement. This presentation explores that ambitious project of freedom and future-making initiated by a group of Barbadians one generation after emancipation in the English Caribbean. Through the use of archaeological and historical methods, I explore the material signatures of Barbadian life observed in Crozierville, the small town established by the settlers. While many powerful, successful, and influential Liberian figures would come from Crozierville, including two of the nation’s presidents, the Barbadian settlement also came to exhibit some of the more oppressive attributes of the colonial society of their Barbadian homeland that had been dominated by slavery just 30 years earlier. Research presented will unpack the process of migration, how settlers made lives for themselves in an unfamiliar land, how they interacted with native Liberians, and what archaeology can tell us about Crozierville’s settlement and more recent history associated with the Liberian Civil War
Dr. C. Matthew Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the City College of New York. He is anthropological archaeologist interested in race formation processes, whiteness, and colonial modernity in the Atlantic world. His work on the Caribbean island of Barbados, the subject of his forthcoming book, Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society, explores how a group of poor whites known as the Redlegs fit within the social matrix of a system of sugar production and slavery. He is currently working on two related projects in Barbados and Liberia. His work in Barbados focuses on heritage management and the process of building futures with the material remains of the dark histories of plantation slavery. He is also collaborating on a project in the West African nation of Liberia investigating a small village established by Barbadian settlers in 1865. The project uses archaeological and ethnographic approaches to explore the process of “reverse diaspora” and settler-native interactions. At the heart of his research is a critical exploration of the complex relationships between slavery and freedom, colonialism and sovereignty, race, class, and capitalism, the social construction of race and structural racism, and the past, present, and future.
About the History Group: The Barbados Museum & Historical Society History Group meets periodically and is intended to provide a platform for researchers of Barbadian History, Heritage and Culture to present their findings and other research to the members and invited guests of the Society.