News Releases

UWI Professor launches C.L.R. James DVD Series

For Release Upon Receipt - June 5, 2008

St. Augustine

Professor Onwubiko Agozino, Professor of Sociology at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine will soon launch a DVD collection of interviews with C.L.R. James scholars and acquaintances. The DVD launch will take place at the Cipriani College of Labour from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the lead up to national Labour Day celebrations on June 19th. At the suggestion of OWTU leaders, the video will be presented as this year’s CLR James Memorial Lecture Series.

Among the interviewees are UWI scholars Professors Gordon Rohlehr and Bridget Brereton, and Doctors Jerome Teelucksingh and Daphne Phillips, and Mr Daurius Figueira. Other prominent interviewees include Professor Selwyn Cudjoe, Emeritus Professor, Wellesley College, Boston; Professor Paget Henry, Brown University, USA;Mr David Abdulah, OWTU Leader; Mr Louis B.Homer, community historian; and Ms Eintou Pearl Springer, poet and dramatist.

Produced and directed by Professor Agozino, the DVD series is inspired by the life and writings of celebrated historian C.L.R. James, in particular The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, James’ highly acclaimed history of the Haitian revolution, which is widely regarded as a seminal text in the study of historical sociology.

James 1938 publication, The Black Jacobins, has been critically acclaimed as ‘A classic and impassioned account of the first revolution in the Third World. This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for the Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba. It is the story of the French colony of Sainte Domingue, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led the black people of Sainte Domingue in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

The DVD series focuses on James’ contributions to historical sociology, political sociology, sociology of arts and sports, sociology of education and social theory in general. The creators of the DVD believe that James’ contributions to Social Theory could help the general public and students worldwide to identify and appreciate the relevance of Social Theory to the Caribbean and Caribbean contributions to this field. The video collection is conceived as an introduction, for scholars around the world, to the thought of C.L.R. James, who is also the author of Beyond the Boundary, Notes on Dialectics, Minty Alley (a novel), Every Cook Can Govern, Nkrumah and the Ghanaian Revolution, Party Politics in the English Speaking Caribbean, American Civilization and Mariners and Castaways.

The DVDs contain 13 interviews, each one hour long. This genre in documentary was deliberately chosen to challenge the tyranny of editing traditions by which valuable interviews are given a short shrift to fit into a shortened programme, based on the belief that the dominant format was developed at a time that film stocks were too expensive to allow for the in-depth phenomenological interviews. The development of video technology makes video stocks reasonably affordable and makes broadcast channels so numerous (including the internet outlets and personal DVD players) that the constraint of time in viewing productions is no longer a major issue. Because the innovative format is similar to the edited book with chapters by different authors, it has been dubbed the ‘Talking Drum’ documentary format, after the tradition of African Griots.

The intention is to publish all the transcripts, either on their own in scholarly journals or as chapters in a book to accompany the video series. One full transcript has already been published.

For more information, please contact Professor Onwubiko Agozino at or (868) 662 2002 Ext. 2023.