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What is Living Histories of Sugar?

Living Histories of Sugar in the Caribbean and Scotland: Transnationalisms, Performance and Co-creation is an Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project which aims to recast the way we think about, understand and live with the transnational and unfinished nature of the sugar industry in the Caribbean and Scotland.


The primary aim of the project is to decentre established historical narratives about sugar, enslavement and sugar work by encouraging performance artists and audiences from the Caribbean and Scotland to contest, resignify or otherwise rework the historical record. We seek to develop resources and creative environments that give agency, voice and space to those who remember sugar differently than existing historical narratives.


Most of the six performance artists on the project - Marva Newton, Phillip Murray (Black Sage), Yvonne Lyon, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow and Michael Nicholson (String Bean) - have generational links to the sugar industry, either through histories of enslavement in Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica, or through family connections to sugar refinery work in Greenock, Scotland.


Our key focus is on the performance artists and their stories, but we will also encourage oral participation from audiences who will view the final performance, which ran in Kingston, Jamaica and Edinburgh and Greenock, Scotland, in late 2022.


Creative outputs will exist beyond the life of the project through a podcast and this website, and will reveal how archival materials have been repurposed into new or re-mixed songs and historical reenactments, with links to the digital archival collections. We have also created a professional recording of the songs.


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