The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB) hosted a symposium on April 27, 2017 in the Seminar Room at the ACIJ/JMB which highlighted the research work of the division over the past fiscal year.

The presenters were Mr. David Brown, Senior Research Fellow, ACIJ/JMB; Ms. Kesia Weise, Research Fellow, ACIJ/JMB; Mrs. Marcella Phillips Grizzle, Research Officer, ACIJ/JMB; and Ms. Maxine Watson, Librarian, ACIJ/JMB.

Mr. Brown presented on the topic – Documenting the Maroon Heritage of Accompong Town, Jamaica: A Case Study in Safeguarding Praxis. His research delved into the process of preserving Maroon culture in Accompong Town, St. Elizabeth.

Ms. Weise’s paper – A Glimpse of Kingston from the 18th Century Through to the Early 20th Century – examined the development of the parish of Kingston in the aftermath of the 1692 earthquake which demolished the merchant town of Port Royal. She argued that although the parish was, from the time of its establishment, the commercial and residential mecca of the white colonial class, it was never numerically dominated by them. Rather, Blacks comprised the largest portion of the population and it was this group that was greatly responsible for shaping the cultural identity of Kingston. She noted that this cultural influence has persisted into the modern era, despite hegemonic attempts in the colonial period to dispel it.

Mrs. Phillips Grizzle’s study – Embracing the Masquerade: Exploring the Role of Masque and Ritual in the West African Tradition – sought to showcase the various aspects of traditional, pre-colonial, and West African masquerades. In particular, the Nigerian Egungun masquerade was explored, which, as opposed to the typical West African masquerade (animist and sometimes celebratory in nature), is concerned with an aspect of ancestor worship which honours the transition and visitation of ancestors from earth to heaven, and vice versa.

Ms. Watson’s research – Safeguarding our Documentary Heritage: Conservation and the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank Library Archive – examined the role of the ACIJ/JMB in documenting and protecting the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. She also threw light on the challenge in transferring material from tapes to digital media, and the importance of the digitization of rote in ensuring the survival and preservation of information for transmission to generations to come.

A question–and-answer session, moderated by Dr. Shani Roper, followed each presentation.