Walter Rodney Commemorative Conference History This Week
By Winston McGowan
Stabroek News
May 5, 2005

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This year, 2005, marks twenty-five years since the tragic death of Walter Rodney. Rodney, a renowned historian and political activist, was assassinated in Georgetown in a bomb blast on June 13, 1980, at the age of thirty-eight in the prime of his life. At the time of his death he was one of Guyana's best known scholars internationally and an increasingly popular figure in local politics.

Rodney was a prolific writer. He was the author of five major books and more than eighty booklets, pamphlets and articles in academic journals. His best-known and most influential publication was How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, a brilliant examination of the historical roots of modern African underdevelopment.

Twenty-five years after his death Rodney continues to be one of the foremost Caribbean personalities. The high esteem in which he is widely held will be reflected this year in a number of commemorative events in Guyana as well as overseas.

One of these events is an academic conference sponsored by the University of Guyana in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Education of the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

The conference will be held in Georgetown from August 10-12 and is being arranged by an organising committee comprising academics from the two institutions. The committee is led by two co-chairpersons, Al Creighton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UG and Dr Rita Pemberton, a member of the Department of History at St Augustine.

The overall theme of the Conference is "Walter Rodney 25 Years Later: Facing the Challenges of History, Poverty, Under-development and Globalisa-tion". The deliberations are expected to focus especially on four aspects of the life and work of Rodney, namely,

1. Biography

2. His publications

3. His political ideas and involvement

4. The challenges of poverty and underdevelopment with which he was preoccupied.

The specific sub-themes identified for the various sessions of the conference are as follows:

Biography 1 - The Life and Times of Walter Rodney

Biography 2 - Contemporary Voices

The Impact of Rodney on Atlantic Historiography and Political Science

Rodney and Politics 1 (Guyana)

Rodney and Politics 2 (Tanzania, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean)

Rodney's Publications: A Critique

Rodney's Marxism and Socialism

The Caribbean Grassroots

The Revolutionary Tradition in Guyana

Caribbean Integration

The Challenges of Poverty and Underdevelopment

Activist Scholarship: Theory and Practice

25 Years Later: An assessment of Walter Rodney's Legacy

The objectives of the conference are outlined in a public advertisement by the organising committee which states: "Rodney's contributions did not end with his death. He has left a legacy, which is still felt regionally and internationally. It is fitting that after 25 years we reflect on Rodney's life, scholarship, activism and interests, and re-examine how they have impacted on Caribbean development. The conference is intended not only as a celebration of the man and his work, but also as a medium for reflection and re-analysis of the past as well as the current development issues in the modern Caribbean."

Participation in the conference is invited especially from academics, students, contemporaries who interacted with Rodney and individuals and organisations involved in areas relevant to his legacy. Participation will be by registration, with a fee of $2000 for local students and $6000 for other local residents. One special session of the conference will be open to the public without any charge.

Readers are invited to present papers at the conference. Abstracts of paper proposals should be send promptly to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Guyana, Turkeyen, Guyana or to the following email address: They should not exceed 300 words in length.

Further information about this important conference can be obtained by calling either of the following telephone numbers, 222-4923 and 222-3424, and by contacting the Conference Secretariat, which will be established shortly in the Faculty of Social Sciences building on the University of Guyana campus at Turkeyen.