News Releases

UWI 60th Anniversary Walter Rodney Conference at Mona Campus- October 16th-18th 2008

For Release Upon Receipt - September 23, 2008


The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Centre for Caribbean Thought, in association with the Guild of Students, UWI, Mona and the Africana Studies Department, Brown University, will convene a conference from October 16-18, 2008 at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, to mark the 40th anniversary of the October 16, 1968 student protests resulting from the expulsion of Walter Rodney.

In October, 1968, the Mona campus was cordoned off by the police and military for two weeks and staff and students engaged in self-searching discussions about the political situation and the character of the University itself and its mission. Revisiting this historic moment is particularly appropriate as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the University of the West Indies.

The impact of the Rodney protests was felt throughout the Caribbean region and especially at the UWI campuses in Trinidad and Barbados and at the University of Guyana. There were protests in London, the United States and elsewhere. These protests internationalized the local events and contributed to the emergence of newspapers such as Abeng in Jamaica, Moko in Trinidad and Ratoon in Guyana. The October 1968 events helped to stimulate the radicalization of Caribbean politics and culture in the 1970s and challenged the Caribbean to consider alternative ways of thinking about and building egalitarian societies in the early years after political independence.

Walter Rodney’s intellectual and political work reinvigorated and refined the radical Pan-African tradition in the 1960’s and 70’s.  His reflections on 1968 and some of his articles and speeches were published in 1969 in The Groundings With My Brothers. His return to the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1969 saw him continue his scholarly work on African history as well as his collaboration with liberation movements based in the Tanzanian capital. In 1972 his classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa appeared. Walter Rodney returned to Guyana in 1974 and was denied employment at the University of Guyana by the administration of Forbes Burnham. Rodney, one of the leaders of the Working People’s Alliance, was killed on June 13, 1980 when an explosive he thought was a walkie-talkie, given to him by a soldier in the Guyana Defence Force, detonated. His book, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905, was published posthumously in 1981.

Dr. Patricia Rodney, Associate Professor at Morehouse College, and Walter Rodney’s widow, will be one of the several guest speakers at the conference, along with other members of the Rodney family. Dr. Rodney will also present the Annual Walter Rodney Lecture on October 16, 2008.


Conference Themes:

Walter Rodney’s Academic and Political Legacy

Pan-Africanism Revisited

Marxism in the Caribbean

Student Activism in the Contemporary Caribbean

Anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean

Black Power in the Caribbean

Gendering Black Power

Rastafari and Political Activism in Jamaica

Grassroots Journalism in the Caribbean

Oral Histories of the Rodney Protests

Literary Representations of Revolutionary Politics in the Caribbean

Rodney, Revolution and Popular Music


For further information please contact:

Walter Rodney Conference Co-ordinator

Centre for Caribbean Thought


Tel: (876) 977-1951

Fax: (876) 977-3430