UCLan Seminar Series 2023-2024 'Slavery, Disability and Wilson Harris', by Dr Malica S. Willie, University of Glasgow

Wednesday 17 April 16:00-17:00 (BST), ABLT3 & Online 

Despite the abolition of slavery in the Nineteenth Century, it is pervasive within the Caribbean psyche, and has shaped our cultural and political lives. It has even affected the ways in which we perceive disability. So, though it can be argued that Caribbean culture, specifically its literature, suffers a simple case of internalised ableism, I suggest that if it is assessed further, we will find that slavery has a great deal to do with our perception and treatment of disability. On the plantation, disabled slaves were diminished, denigrated and depreciated due to their lack of limb, failing eyesight, etc, and the Bible, which was used as the civilising tool for the enslaved, portrays the disabled as objects. It is then possible to argue that a certain formula of disability has been imprinted in, what Guyanese writer, Wilson Harris might call the Caribbean collective consciousness. With this transgenerational consciousness in mind, Wilson Harris’s fiction will be assessed to explore his representation of visual disability.

Dr Malica S. Willie is a writer, researcher and lecturer of Black British & African Diasporic Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her current research is concerned with the intersectionalities of Slavery and Disability Studies and Caribbean Literature. Her research can be found in collections like Garth St. Omer: A Casebook (2018), and Caryl Phillips’s Genealogies (2023), and in journals such as Anglica, Small Axe, Journal of West Indian Literature and others.

Hosted by The UCLan Research Centre for Migration, Diaspora and Exile (MIDEX) and online