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Thinking History: A Conversation with Robert A. Hill on History and the Black Radical Tradition

Robert A. Hill
University of California, Los Angeles
David Austin
John Abbott College

The Department of History's Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Indigeneity Committee invites you to “Thinking History: A Conversation with Robert A. Hill on History and the Black Radical Tradition.” This conversation will be facilitated by Professors David Austin and Daniel McNeil, with an introduction and welcome by Dr. Laila Haidarali.

Robert A. Hill is one of the foremost historians of the history of the Black diaspora and a leading authority on Garveyism, Rastafari, and C.L.R. James. Professor Hill is a historian's historian whose work has influenced several generations of academics. As a scholar of the Black Radical Tradition, including movements in which he has played a part, his politics are congealed in his historical work. During this conversation we will explore the genesis of his work in Jamaica, England, Canada, and ultimately in the United States. Among the themes that will be discussed include the work of figures such as Walter Rodney, C.L.R. James, and Stuart Hall and the genesis of Rastafari and Garveyism.

Join us on Zoom on February 27 at 5pm. To register, please click on this link.


David Austin is the author of Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution (Pluto Press, 2018) and Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal (Between the Lines, 2013), winner of the 2014 Casa de las Americas Prize; editor of Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness (Pluto Press, 2018); and editor of You Don’t Play with Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James (AK Press, 2009). He is featured in and served as an advisor for the CBC Black Life: Untold Stories television series and has produced radio documentaries for CBC’s Ideas on Frantz Fanon and C.L.R. James. He currently teaches in the Humanities, Philosophy, and Religion Department at John Abbott College and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. 

Robert Abraham Henry Hill, a Jamaican by birth, upbringing and education, is Research Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was a member of the faculty since 1977-1978. He is the editor in chief of The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Papers, a multi-volume letterpress edition of the papers of the largest organized movement of blacks in history. Today, he is renowned internationally as the preeminent scholar of Marcus Garvey and his movement. In addition, he is the literary executor of the Estate of C.L.R. James.

Professor Hill moved to America in 1970 to continue this research. Prior to his appointment at UCLA, Professor Hill served as a senior research fellow at the Institute of the Black World in Atlanta, Georgia, and taught at Dartmouth College and Northwestern University.

The University of California Press and Duke University Press have published fourteen volumes of The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers. In addition, Professor Hill has collected and published several other volumes of historical materials, including Cyril Valentine Briggs's The Crusader Magazine (1918-1921), Marcus Garvey's Black Man Magazine (1933-1939), and George Schuyler's Black Empire and Ethiopian Stories. One of the achievements of Professor Hill's research has been on the life of Leonard P. Howell, one of the prophets of the early Rastafari movement in the nineteen-thirties in Jamaica, as well as the lives of other key Rastafari and Back-to-Africa figures. In addition, Professor Hill has published influential essays on C.L.R. James, Walter Rodney, and George Beckford of Jamaica, in addition to essays on such pioneering Pan-African figures as W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. J. Albert Thorne of Guyana and Chief Charles Sam of the Gold Coast.

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