to Barbados was one of my favorite experiences since I have been at Davidson.
Firstly, I got to immerse myself in a culture that has not been a focus
throughout my liberal arts education. As a Jamaica, I find that much of the
knowledge we encounter is about the U.S., written by an American, or from an
American point of view. However, during this experience we got to learn from Barbadian
professors, intellectuals and citizens. We got to interact with the people who were
are studying which gives us a more accurate understanding.
we visited sites! We went to burial grounds, slave monuments, and the archives.
These are things that are not available for browsing in the U.S or at Davidson.
most important thing for me was being able to learn from 7am until I went to
bed. However, this learning wasn’t in front a white board or behind a desk.
This was a real world experience that I will never forget.
Having the opportunity to study abroad in Barbados, especially during my
freshman year at Davidson, makes me feel extremely lucky. Before enrolling in Dr. Dennie’s “Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic” class, I
thought about slavery as if it only occurred in the United States. However,
taking Dr. Dennie’s class and traveling to Barbados has completely changed the way I view and think about slavery.
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Overall, the most important things I gained from this trip were seeing the
different ways that history is presented and learning about slavery with a
group of incredibly strong and intelligent women.
During our classes before the trip, we discussed what life was like for
enslaved individuals on sugar plantations in the Caribbean. So, when we visited the Sunbury plantation and were given a tour that was entirely about the White enslavers, many of us were upset that the tour and displays seemed to be idolizing these enslavers. However, after considering the audience the tour was tailored to, European tourists, it was clear why the history was being presented the way it was. Seeing this made me realize that I must have an open mindset when studying history and must consider who is telling the story and how that affects the way they tell it.
Before traveling to Barbados, I only spoke to a few people in the class.
However, this trip was an opportunity for us all to bond and become friends
outside of the classroom. Having the class be all women made it possible for me to experience an environment of female empowerment. Whether it was compliments while taking pictures or on what someone else was wearing, every day I saw an example of one woman uplifting another, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
I would also like to personally thank Dr. Dennie for designing an incredible
course overall and for organizing an amazing trip to Barbados. She has taught me two brilliant Africana Studies classes that have changed the way I look at Black history. Because of her, I was able to identify Africana Studies as one of my passions and future majors here at Davidson, and for all of these things, I am extremely grateful.
~ Mariah Alvarado
One day when I look back to my time at Davidson I truly believe I will consider enrolling in Dr. Dennie’s “Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic” course as one of the luckiest things I did at Davidson. Driven by a recommendation from a professor and a desire to learn about the subject I signed up without an inkling of the special opportunity that accompanied the class.
Before I reflect on my time in Barbados I want to say, that even without the trip this class would have been an amazing one. Dr. Dennie is an brilliant professor and she crafted the course perfectly. But the opportunity to travel to Barbados, a key place in the history we were learning about brought the class to a whole new level.
The trip to Barbados was important to me for three main reasons. The first was that being in Barbados gave me the ability to visualize spaces that we read about in the classroom. I believe that having access the the locations I learn about gives me the ability to examine the information more critically. Not only was I able to see the historical places we learned about such as plantations, the garrison and sugar fields, being in Barbados gave me the opportunity to see the impact of that history on contemporary life, something I find key in the study of history.
Second, I was able to see how history is presented in different ways. As a historian who wants to focus on subaltern voices in my work I am passionate about understanding how history is created. I don’t mean a literal history with exact events, but rather how the myth of history is formed, and who gets to choose what can be said. This is something our class struggled with on the trip. As a group of scholars with a deep investment in how slavery is presented it was hard to go to homes and plantations where slavery was erased to maintain tourists’ comfort. However, other locations like the National Museum and Arlington House showed that the history of slavery can be told well, and that there are people working hard to make sure that history is the truth.
Finally, it was an utter privilege to get to go on this trip with the wonderful women in the class. Having the ability to discuss the things I saw with such a brilliant, passionate and loving group of women made the experience even deeper as I got to reflect on how people viewed the places we’d been. Their presence also was a gift when spending time in spaces of violence, suffering, and pain like the burial ground for enslaved people that is currently barely recognized by the Bejan community. I was in awe of the strength I saw in my peers, but also at their ability to treat themselves with kindness and love when they needed it.
Overall, I am so lucky to have been part of this trip and so glad I got to do it with these women. This class and this trip have only strengthened my academic abilities to study history and my person goal of being a more empathetic scholar.
From March 3-March 8, 2019, 14 of the students enrolled in Africana Studies 329: Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic travelled abroad to study the history of slavery in Barbados. This experience was funded with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Justice, Equality, and Community grant and the Davidson Research Initiative Group Investigation grant.
While we were abroad, we visited a variety of historical sites like Newton Slave Burial Ground, where approximately 570 enslaved persons were buried, and the Arlington House Museum. We also had the opportunity to speak with multiple historians from the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, including Dr. Henderson Carter, who took us on a day-long Emancipation Tour and Dr. Tara Inniss, who delivered a lecture to us about her research on health and medicine among enslaved women a children. Another highlight of our time in Barbados was our visit to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS), where we went on a tour, looked at archival materials, and spoke with the curatorial staff and deputy director of the museum about some of the primary sources available in the BMHS archives.
On this site, you will find students’ reflections about their learning experience in Barbados as well as photographs from our travels together.
– Dr. Nneka D. Dennie