The Past Is Not Our Future –Walter Rodney’s Student Years Film Screening and Q&A with Director

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Date: September 25, 2018 5:00pm
Location: Askew Student Life Center

The film documents the early period in the life of Guyanese revolutionary and historian of Africa, Walter Rodney. It places Rodney the student, the brilliant idealist whose restlessness was his greatest motivator, in the context of a Caribbean in flux. Rodney studied History at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. When Jamaica shifted finally to full independence in 1962, Rodney was already exploring other models on which the Caribbean’s future could be based. A student visit to Cuba impacted him greatly. So did the silences which he had to confront in his education. African History seldom evolved in the curriculum beyond the trans-Atlantic slave trade and even then its coverage tended toward the prosaic accounting of region and numbers. Dissatisfied with the answers to his questions, Rodney started answering them for himself. The ancient history and the contemporary release from the formal grip of colonialism on the continent, were urgent concerns of the well-traveled undergraduate who also visited the United States, England, and Russia between 1960 and 1963. This path to intellectual self-discovery and revolutionary awakening is the soul of the film. This film was written, produced and directed by Matthew J. Smith.

Bio Matthew J. Smith:

Matthew J. Smith is Professor of Caribbean History and Chair of the Department of History and Archaeology, UWI-Mona. He is the author of two books and many articles on Haitian political and social history. Among his recent projects is a film on the student years of Guyanese intellectual, Walter Rodney and, with Diana Paton, an edited collection of readings on Jamaican History, Culture, and Society.