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Conference Announcement

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The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in cooperation with the Eric Williams Memorial Collection at the University of the West Indies, invites you to the above-named conference to be held on February 15 and 16, 2002 in New York City.

We are pleased to announce that the keynote speaker will be Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies and, himself, a noted historian. Scholars will also be participating from a multitude of prominent universities and colleges in the United States, Canada and, of course, the Caribbean.

Since Eric Williams established a tradition of excellence in Caribbean History almost 60 years ago, which has secured this area of study as critical to any larger considerations of African American scholarship, these scholars, then, as worthy exponents of that, promise to make the event both
a stimulating social and intellectual experience.

The significance of this conference, unlike others which tended to focus almost exclusively on Eric Williams' seminal work, Capitalism and Slavery, is that the themes here are far-reaching, exploring hitherto unknown areas of research into his multifaceted personality and accomplishments - as well
as his failures. And this is primarily as a result of the inauguration of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection at the University of the West Indies by current US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in 1998.

There has clearly been a resurgence of interest, internationally, in Eric Williams and a general recognition of his continuing importance, emphasized by the Collection being recently named to UNESCO's prestigious "Memory of the World Register" - the United Nations' attempt to preserve the world's historical and cultural heritage.

For instance, in recent public fora, both former US President Clinton and current Nobel Laureate, Sir Vidia Naipaul, have made specific mention of Eric Williams' vision, exhortations and encouragement of his people.

And just a few months ago, both Guyana's Stabroek News and the Jamaica Observer, in commenting on Venezuela's alleged encroachments in the Caribbean area, have reprised EricWilliams' words and warnings, uttered some 30 years ago, which are now coming back to haunt - yet another validation of the motto of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection: "Historia Exemplum
Proponit" - History Provides the Blueprint.

We do hope you will mark your calendar and plan to attend this important event: as a Caribbean nation, we simply must be known for something other than Carnival. So should you need additional information, please don't hesitate to contact me.

York/UNESCO Nigerian Hinterland Project
Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173