2019-2020 Distinguished Scholar: Verene Shepherd

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Professor Verene Shepherd  a fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society, is University Director of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies and Professor of Social History at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. She has had a long association with the women’s movement and a track record of research on gender issues. She was the Faculty of Arts Representative on the Board for Gender & Development from 1996-1998 and Faculty Representative, Women and Development Studies Group from 1989-1991.  She has contributed to other aspects of university life. For example during the period 2004 – 2006 she served as a member of the Mona Campus Strategic Transformation Team.

Professor Shepherd is the host of “Talking History” on Nationwide 90 FM and member of the United Nation’s Working Group of Experts on People of African descent. She is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Caribbean Historians and was the first woman to chair the Board of Trustees of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (2006-2007)

A graduate of the UWI, Mona and the University of Cambridge, where she read for her PhD in history, Professor Shepherd’s research interests are Jamaican Economic History during slavery (especially the history of non-sugar activities); Migration and Diasporas, and Caribbean Women’s history; and she has published widely on these topics. Among her publications (sole-authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited are Livestock, Sugar & Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica (2009); I Want to Disturb My Neighbour (2007); Maharani’s Misery: Narratives of a Passage from India to the Caribbean (2002) and Engendering History: Caribbean Women in Historical Perspectives (1998). She also writes for High School students, producing, with Hilary McD Beckles. Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems (2004) and Freedoms Won: Caribbean Emancipations, Ethnicities and Nationhood (2006). Both Professor Shepherd and Professor Beckles were also very instrumental in ensuring that Lucille Mathurin Mair’s path-breaking PhD thesis, “A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica,” written in 1974, was finally published in 2007. 

She is a member of several international organizations (e.g.she is a  Steering Committee Member of the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development) and sits on the Advisory/Editorial of several local and international journals including the Arts Journal, Caribbean Quarterly, Jamaica Journal, Slavery and Abolition. She has also held postdoctoral and research fellowships at several universities, among such fellowships being the DuBois-Mandela-Rodney Fellowship, Center for Afro-American & African Studies, University of Michigan.

A much sought after speaker, she has presented numerous seminar and conference papers and delivered many public lectures locally, regionally and internationally; and she has been the recipient of several awards, including the Jamaica National Heritage Trust Award for contribution to Jamaican history and heritage and the Africana Studies distinguished African Award (2007) from Florida International University.

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