Prof. Jeannette Bastian

Professor Jeanette Bastian on Decolonizing the Caribbean Record

Can you tell us a bit about your book?

Decolonizing the Caribbean Record, An Archives Reader, was initially envisioned as a text for the Masters of Archival Science (MAS) degree at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica. In 2014, I was part of a UNESCO-funded team designing MAS curriculum in the UWI Department of Library Studies (I am also a graduate of the University of the West Indies with a Master of Philosophy in Caribbean Literature). 

The team focused on designing a curriculum that was sensitive to the cultural heritage of the Caribbean as well as to the archival concerns of small former colonial islands in tropical climates. One huge issue was the lack of relevant readings that spoke to these concerns. So three of us decided to create a text. My co-editors, Stanley Griffin and John Aarons, both archivists and educators at UWI, and I have been working on this book for the past four years. The book, over 800 pages, includes 40 original essays, the majority by Caribbean authors— not only archivists, but historians, anthropologists, museum curators and humanists. The essays cover a wide range of topics including reparations, music, oral tradition, performance, tropical preservation, genealogy, monuments, archival history, as well as essays from the Caribbean diaspora. Although it was initially designed to support the MAS program, we feel that this Reader is widely applicable to postcolonial communities generally, and should be of interest to scholars and students of the Caribbean in addition to archivists.

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