The Centre for Reparation Research (CRR), commenced operations in March 2017 though officially launched in October 2017. The Centre was created to promote research on, and advocacy around the legacies of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, African enslavement and colonialism in the Caribbean; and help to bring justice and positive transformation to societies affected by these legacies.
As the Centre enters its third year of existence, its experts commit to continue to research, write and disseminate information on what has become a global reparatory justice movement. The CRR, therefore, supports and contributes to the implementation of CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice Programme (CRJP). It also supports long-standing reparatory justice advocates, including Rastafari, civil society groups and individual academics, politicians and national reparation committees/councils/advisory groups locally, regionally and internationally. The Centre has embraced an additional responsibility – working with DISCUS at The UWI and other educational institutions, including Caribbean secondary schools, to promote education on colonial legacies and the need for justice and repair. Further it promotes advocacy for reparatory justice by building capacity, providing consultancies to CARICOM and other institutions, raising public awareness, and supporting activism related to reparatory justice.
The CRR embodies the goals of The UWI’s Triple A Strategy 2017-2022: to advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean through access, alignment and agility. The Centre’s primary, interlocking objectives are
Both objectives are based in an understanding that many of the injustices and adverse effects of colonialism in the Caribbean did not end with formal independence and still need to be addressed and repaired.
The increased awareness, advanced learning and practical solutions expected to result from the CRR’s work to achieve these objectives will ultimately allow for the positive transformation of the region.
The CRR’s goal to promote research on the legacies of colonialism, native genocide, enslavement and indentureship in the Caribbean; as well as strategies for justice and positive transformation contributes directly to its institutional strategic pillar - Access.
As the CRR’s research continues to highlight how history reverberates in the present, how the present has been influenced by the past and solutions to the problems left by colonialism, the Centre seeks to aid regional educational efforts in the following ways:
In the period under review, in keeping with the University’s status as a global university that encourages diversity, the Centre has hosted and collaborated on a number of seminars, workshops and conferences which bring together national, regional and international speakers. In the future, the CRR will pursue collaborations across The UWI’s DISCUS (University Departments, Institutes, Schools, Centres, Units and Sites).
The establishment of the CRR has already resulted in academic and industry partnerships and collaborations with institutions both regionally and internationally. Advocates such as the National African-American Reparation Coalition in the USA, Global African Congress in the UK, and National Committees of the CARICOM countries, now have collaborative relationships with the Centre.
This also fulfils another main goal of the CRR which is the promotion of advocacy for reparatory justice by the building of capacity for:
The CRR’s capacity to promote advocacy is integral to its practical, solution-oriented and extroverted focus. As such, the Centre is committed to its roles as a consultant, a raiser of consciousness, and an activist on matters of colonial legacies and decolonisation. The CRR has been approached by industries and establishments with ties to slavery to assist them in managing their public response. Some of these partnerships will result in the generation of funds for the Centre/The UWI.
Although the CRR may not achieve a physical presence on all continents, there is the potential to make its presence and that of The UWI, felt globally. In pursuit of this, the CRR has embarked on the establishment of two international committees: an Advisory Committee and a Network of Scholars, which will have members from academia and civil society, regardless of their physical location, as the electronic/digital age facilitates alternative forms of collaboration.
The CRR is directed by Social Historian and member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Professor Verene A. Shepherd, OD, who is also a Vice-Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. The core staff complement is completed by a Research Assistant, a Project Officer, Mrs Jonessa Wright-Baker and an Administrative Assistant, Mr Floyd Williams.
In August 2019 Ms. Jodi-Ann Quarrie, Research Assistant, who had been with the CRR since the start of 2018 resigned. She was replaced by Ms. Gabrielle Hemmings.
The CRR has also hosted a number of volunteers within the period under review. Currently, due to the lack of physical space within the department, volunteers generally work two days of each week on specific research related activities. Several persons also sought affiliation status and volunteered to contribute to the advancement of the Centre’s research work.
CRR’s Research Assistant, Ms. Jodi-Ann Quarrie was selected as one of the 2018 Fellows in the Fellowship Programme of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. She completed her fellowship in Geneva, Switzerland.
During the reporting period the Centre has continued to host and collaborate on a number of activities. Some of the major initiatives including conferences and seminars attended included:
During the period under review CRR Director published the journal article:
Verene A. Shepherd, “Past Imperfect, Future Perfect? Reparations, Rehabilitation, Reconciliation”, The Journal of African American History, Vol. 103, Winter/Spring 2018, Nos. 1 / 2, pp. 19-43.
Plans are currently underway for the following publications:
The CRR remains committed to fulfilling The UWI’s Triple A Strategy and CARICOM’s mandate to advance the movement for reparatory justice in the Caribbean.