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Bussa of Bussa's Rebellion, Barbados

 

RESEARCH SCOPE | I am interested in extending pre-existing research on the traditional Black Press as it exists in the United States into the African Diaspora at large and the Caribbean, in particular, in pursuit of developing curricular considerations for linking the field of Journalism to an Africana intellectual genealogy as a foundation for present and future practice, and as a pedagogical tool.

Very early in the text “Intellectual Warfare” the late Jacob Carruthers wrote about how Jamaican-born Dutty Boukman made his way to Haiti in 1791 to incite the insurrection in Saint-Domingue that ignited what we call the Haitian Revolution. What inspired me even moreso, however, were the ripples from this revolution, and, specifically, the medium that was used to channel it through time and space. In Barbados, in 1816, several of the enslaved Africans who could read and speak English, such as Nanny Grigg, had access to English-written newspapers from which they learned about what was happening in the Diaspora, namely Haiti, and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

 

After reading about the successful Haitian uprising in the paper, she advised her comrades, one of which was a man named Bussa (shown above), the namesake of the Bussa Rebellion, to “set fire like they did in St. Domingo.” In that very moment – the press became a liberation tool, a direct precursor to the insurgent media spaces that would emerge in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

The goal of the curriculum is to develop skills that intersect journalism with socio-cultural-political discourse that focuses on African Diasporic communities and spaces. We will study Journalism on two levels — (1) macro: a wide landscape survey to witness the sweep of movements and innovations emanating in multiple temporal directions from the Haitian Revolution-inspired Bussa’s Rebellion in Barbados via the press; and (2) micro: in-depth, close-up research to examine events and media topics in a narrow time frame. The intended outcome is for students to be able to articulate the connection between journalism and an Africana-rooted intellectual genealogy – beginning to suture the practice/profession as a thinking tradition and mode of inscription and cultural continuity from antiquity to present.

 

Always fitting: "The past," Edouard Glissant wrote, "to which we were subjected, which has yet emerged as history for us but that is, however, obsessively present."