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The Past Is Not Our Future


Mar 21 2019


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Forum for Scholars and Publics

011 Old Chemistry Building, Duke's West Campus Quad

Past Is Not Our Future

Screening and Q&A: The Past Is Not Our Future

With Writer/Director Matthew J. Smith

Join us for a public screening of the documentary film, The Past Is Not Our Future: Walter Rodney’s Student Years, followed by a Q&A with director Matthew J. Smith. 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. The film was written, produced and directed by Matthew J. Smith.

Co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies at Duke.


Matthew J. Smith

University of West Indies - Mona, Jamaica

Matthew J. Smith is Professor in History and Head of the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. His areas of research include Haitian politics, society, and migration. He is the author of the books Liberty, Fraternity, Exile: Haiti and Jamaica After Emancipation…...

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