THE University of the West Indies (UWI) has signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Glasgow, Scotland, to partner in a reparation’s strategy of research for Caribbean development.
The MoU was signed on July 31, on the eve of Emancipation Day, at the UWI regional headquarters by Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Prof Sir Hilary Beckles and Dr David Duncan, chief operating officer and secretary of the University of Glasgow.
Jamaicaglobalonline reported that under the terms of the MoU, the two universities will establish the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development and Research which will operate from both universities.
The University of Glasgow has committed to spending £20 million over a 20-year period as part of its programme of reparative justice. The programme will include seed funding, benefactions and research grant income, raised from grant-giving bodies.
According to the report, The University of Glasgow will allocate resources to support the running of the centre, scholarships, research, public engagement and related activities. It is well-positioned to do so as it has one of the largest research bases in the UK with research income of £180 million and is a member of the elite Russell Research Group of 24 major research universities. It is especially noted for research in precision medicine and chronic diseases.
The centre will be administered by a joint board and its activities and allocations will be guided by the principle of reparatory justice. The centre’s reparatory-oriented policy research will address the legacies of slavery and colonialism revolving around the broad areas and issues of public health-specifically chronic disease proliferation, persistent poverty and inequality in economic relations, educational inadequacies and other factors that adversely affect economic growth and social justice in the Caribbean Region.
At the signing, Beckles noted that for the Caribbean this was the first formal response to its call for reparatory justice. He observed that historians in the Caribbean and in Scotland have long been aware of the role played by the City of Glasgow in the development and sustainability of African enslavement in the Caribbean and elsewhere, as well as the financial support given to enslavers in the Caribbean to the University of Glasgow.
However, it was the information contained in a report commissioned by the University of Glasgow that revealed the exact dimensions of endowments which the university received from owners and managers of slave-produced wealth, that provided the ethical context and empirical basis for what has resulted in the partnership with UWI.
“They (University of Glasgow) have not done as many universities with a similar engagement with slave-produced wealth have done, that is to “research and run.” Research and run has indeed become the norm for many universities in Britain, Europe and North America. Rather than stand and plan, they “researched and ran.” Not so with the University of Glasgow. It has provided for a partnership with the UWI which is cast within the framework of reparatory justice for the victims of slavery and colonialism.”
Duncan, historian and Chair of the History of Slavery Committee at Glasgow, said the university has acknowledged and made amends for the benefits it received from the proceeds of slavery and the slave trade. It has identified £198 million received over the years by way of donations from those involved or who benefited, including those who received compensation from the British government at emancipation.
These donations helped to fund scholarships and erect buildings that make up the physical structures of the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and which is ranked among the top one per cent of universities worldwide.
Another commemorative signing of the MoU is scheduled at the University of Glasgow on August 23, coinciding with UNESCO’s International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in honour of the enslaved.