Morant Bay Rebellion Conference

The University of the West Indies’ Department of History and Archaeology and the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation host exciting Commemorative Conference marking the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion of October 11, 1865.

The Department of History and Archaeology, under the auspices of its Social History Project hosted  an exciting 3 day conference October 22-25, 2015, dubbed, “‘The Terror Spread’: The Morant Bay Rebellion and Jamaican History”, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 11 October 1865.

The conference had an excellent start with the Opening Ceremony held on 22 October at which a most insightful Keynote Address on Jamaica’s political history in the post slavery period was given by esteemed historian, Dr. Swithin Wilmot, Senior Lecture in the Department. The address, titled, “The Road to Morant Bay: Politics in Free Jamaica, 1838-1865” was well received and generated many questions and discussion amongst the 120 attendees.

Earlier in the programme, members of the Pantomime company, led by Dr. the Honourable Dr. Barbara Gloudon, gave a very emotionally moving 15 minute performance of “Poetry for Bogle.”


 Also, during the Opening Ceremony, Mr Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Board of the Jamaica national Building Society Foundation, launched the Parish Histories of Jamaica Project which the Department is carrying out in partnership with the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation.


 The two days of panel presentations which followed included 18 academic paper presentations by local and international scholars. These were well attended, and we were particularly delighted to see among the 110 persons in attendance on the Friday, High School students from Knox College, York Castle High and Campion College. Some 80 persons attended the Saturday sessions, and 20 persons participated in the Field Trip to Easington, Stony Gut and Morant Bay on the Sunday.


 Several attendees and participants have commended the Department for an excellent conference, not only in terms of its organisation, but also for the quality of the papers presented. Here I highlight two:


From Professor Timothy Watson, University of Miami: “I want to write to thank you so much for organizing such a fantastic, rich, inspiring conference: it was a real honour and a pleasure to be there and to be able to participate in what felt itself like something of an historic event. I thought the papers were of extremely high quality and it was especially generative and helpful to have so much time for questions and discussion. I learned so much!


From Professor Newton Duncan, Head of the Department of Surgery, UWI, Mona: “Need I say your keynote lecture was brilliant, mainly through your ownership of the material. My own ignorance was both sad painful and I could not duck personal irresponsibility in neglecting a subject so central to "jamaicaness" and black assertiveness. Thanks to you both for breathing life into this subject.”