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  • Academic staff

  • Professor Mary Chamberlain

    Emeritus Professor of Caribbean History

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 484130

    Email: mchamberlain@brookes.ac.uk


    Since 1975 Professor Chamberlain has worked with oral history and life story methods, and has published widely on these, on women’s history and since 1991, on Caribbean history, notably on Caribbean migration and diasporic Caribbean families. Her interest in migration has now moved to incorporate the role of migration in the development of West Indian consciousness and independent nationhood. She is also interested in the links with memory and history, and what she calls ‘cultural templates’, the imaginative structures through which memory is recalled and recounted.

    She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of a range of academic, editorial and government advisory boards. She was also a founding and principal editor of the Memory and Narrative series, a Trustee and current advisor of the National Life Story Collection of the National Sound Archive of the British Library, and a member of the advisory group of the Raphael Samuel History Centre. She has been consultant to the Barbados Government's National Oral History Project, and a member of the UK Government’s Caribbean Advisory Group (1998-2002). She has also held visiting professorships at the University of the West Indies and at New York University and is a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College and has served on studentship and research panels.

    Research Degrees

    Professor Chamberlain has supervised doctoral theses on various aspects of Caribbean history, and women’s history

    Research interests

    Gender history; oral history; the Caribbean Diaspora.

    Research Dissemination

    Some recent keynote and plenary addresses are: University of Michigan, Atlantic Studies Initiative (2004); National Archives (2003); ESRC Transnational Communities (2002); 4th International Metropolis Conference (1997); Elsa Goveia Memorial Lecture (1997); Narrating Selves and Others conference, Antwerp 1997.

    Recent invited presentations include University of Pittsburg (2008); Carnegie Mellon University (2008); German Historical Institute (2008); Centre for Documentation and Research, Sarajevo (2006); Akademie Schloss Solitude (2005); Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, New York University (2004); Masaryk University (2002); Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (2002)

    Research group membership

    Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

    Research projects

    Current research

    Caribbean de-colonisation

    Journal articles

    • Chamberlain M, 'The ANC's London Recruits: a Personal Story'
      History Workshop Journal 75 (1) (2013) pp.147-157
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
      Abstract Website
    • Chamberlain M, 'Elsa Goveia: History and Nation'
      History Workshop Journal (2004) pp.167-190
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, 'Small Worlds: Childhood and Empire'
      Journal of Family History 27 (2002) pp.186-200
      ISSN: 0363-1990 eISSN: 0363-1990
    • Chamberlain M, 'Praise Songs of the Family: Lineage and Kinship in the Caribbean Diaspora'
      History Workshop Journal (2000) pp.114-128
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, 'Gender and the Narratives of Migration'
      History Workshop Journal (1997) pp.87-108
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554


    • Chamberlain M, review of Freedom and Constraint in Caribbean Migration and Diaspora, in Nwig-new West Indian Guide-nieuwe West-indische Gids 85 (2012) pp.270-272
      ISSN: 1382-2373 eISSN: 1382-2373
    • Chamberlain M, review of The Children of Africa in the Colonies, in Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39 (2012) pp.531-533
      ISSN: 0308-6534 eISSN: 0308-6534
    • Chamberlain M, review of Connecting Histories: a Comparative Exploration of African-caribbean and Jewish History and Memory in Modern Britain, in History Workshop Journal (2009) pp.244-252
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, review of Caribbean Journeys: An Ethnography of Migration and Home in Three Family Networks, in History Workshop Journal (2009) pp.244-252
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, review of Jamaican Hands Across the Atlantic, in History Workshop Journal (2009) pp.244-252
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, review of Negotiating Boundaries in the City: Migration, Ethnicity and Gender in Britain, in History Workshop Journal (2009) pp.244-252
      ISSN: 1363-3554 eISSN: 1363-3554
    • Chamberlain M, review of From Immigrants to Ethnic Minority: Making Black Community in Britain, in Ethnic and Racial Studies 26 (2003) pp.560-561
      ISSN: 0141-9870 eISSN: 0141-9870
    • Chamberlain M, review of Tiger in the Stars: the Anatomy of Indian Achievement in British Guiana 1919-1929, in History 84 (2000) pp.711-712
      ISSN: 0018-2648 eISSN: 0018-2648
    • Chamberlain M, review of Imagining Home, Gender, Race and National Identity, 1945-64, in Womens History Review 8 (1) (1999)
      ISSN: 0961-2025 eISSN: 0961-2025

    Other publications



    Conference papers given since 2001

    • Small Worlds: Childhood and Empire Annual Conference of Association of Caribbean Historians, University of the West Indies,Trinidad April 2001.
    • Narratives of the Caribbean Family: Narratives of Belonging Conference, University of London, Goldsmiths College, April 2001.
    • Families and Transnationality Caribbean Diaspora Conference, South Bank University, August 2001.
    • Reading Narratives and Cultural Identity: Life Stories from the Caribbean European Social Science History Conference, March 2002, The Hague, Netherlands.
    • Language, Identity and Caribbean Families: Transnational Narratives Les migrations caraïbéennes vers les métropoles: identité, citoyenneté, modèles d'intégration. Colloque à la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, June 2002.
    • Caribbean kinship in a Global setting Leeds Transnational Kinship Seminar, ESRC Research Group for the Study of Care, values and the Future of Welfare (CAVA), University of Leeds, September 2003.
    • The consolation of freedom George Lamming: Philosopher of the Caribbean, symposium, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, October 2003.
    • Language, Identity and Caribbean Families: Transnational Narratives Narrative Identity and Self and Family and Relationship Research, ESRC Research Group for the Study of Care, values and the Future of Welfare (CAVA), University of Leeds, November 2003.
    • Memories of Race and the Formation of Nation, Memory and Narrative SYmposium, University of California, Berkeley, October 2006
    • Barbados and the Moral Economy: 1937-1966, Association of Caribbean Historians, Jamaica 2007; ASWAD conference, Barbados, 2007

    Other experience

    Guest editor:

    • Global Networks Vol. IV, No. 3, July 2004 (with Selma Leydesdorff).
    • History Workshop Journal Vol. 58, Autumn 2004, (with Catherine Hall and Bill Schwarz)