Lecture: Selwyn R. Cudjoe on “The Slave Master of Trinidad”


[Many thanks to Shantel George for bringing this item to our attention.] The Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum (PASCF) recently announced their first 2019 workshop, led by Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe, who will speak on William Hardin Burnley (1780-1785) the largest slave owner in Trinidad and the largest resident slave owner in the Anglophone Caribbean. This event takes place on Friday, January 11, at 7:00pm, at 336 Brixton Road, London.

Description: Burnley has been likened to Thomas Jefferson of the United States, and called “a founding father of Trinidad.” He was very much a racist who believed that Europeans were superior to Black/Afrikan people whose only destiny was to serve white people. Though Burnley fought strenuously against the abolition of slavery, when it ended, he received the most compensation from the British government.

In this session, Prof Cudjoe chronicles the life of William Hardin Burnley (1780-1785) the largest slave owner in Trinidad and the largest resident slave owner in the Anglophone Caribbean. Born to English parents, Burnley settled in Trinidad in 1802 and became one of the most influential citizens and a prominent member of the British Empire. Burnley moved easily in the Atlantic world of the Caribbean, the United States, Great Britain and Europe. He counted among his friends Alex de Tocqueville [French diplomat, political scientist and historian] and British prime minister.

Prof Cudjoe probes the social and cultural environment in which Burnley lived. He re-examines the decades of transition from Afrikan enslavement to freedom through examining Burnley’s life and demonstrates that the legacies of slavery have persisted in the new post-emancipation society.

Presenter: Selwyn R. Cudjoe is a professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He has taught at Harvard, Cornell, and Ohio Universities. He has written for the New York Times, the New Left Review, the Harvard Education Review, and many other publications. Prof Cudjoe is the author of V. S. Naipaul: A Materialist Reading; Beyond Boundaries: In Intellectual Tradition of Trinidad and most recently, The Slave Master of Trinidad: William Hardin Burnley and the Nineteenth Century Atlantic World.

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