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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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.
Professor Chamberlain has supervised doctoral theses on various aspects of Caribbean history, and women’s history
Gender history; oral history; the Caribbean Diaspora.
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)
By 1966, the Apartheid regime in South Africa had all but annihilated the African National Congress. While the Anti-Apartheid Movement focused attention on the regime, the ANC-SACP in exile was faced with how to destroy Apartheid from within. A strategy of resistance was put in place, one aspect of which was to release ANC and SACP literature into South Africa. Ronnie Kasril, one of the exiled leadership, was tasked to recruit volunteers, and send them to South Africa as couriers. Carey Harrison and I were two of the fifty or so recruited. None of us knew the existence of the others. Sworn to secrecy, our work remained silent for forty years until the publication in 2012 of The London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid, edited by Ken Keable. Thirty-one recruits (three of whom were captured and imprisoned) recalled their experiences, including myself: reluctant witnesses to Apartheid, but also to the forces of international collaboration and co-operation. This article is an expanded account of my time in South Africa, a personal reflection on my motives and memories and those of my co-recruits, of the difficulties telling our stories, and of the emotions stirred when we finally met.