Women Making ‘Her’story: Dr Lucille Mathurin Mair

One of Jamaica’s finest rebel women, Lucille Mathurin Mair was a pioneer for Caribbean Women’s History. Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair was a well respected Jamaican historian, author, teacher, activist and diplomat. Throughout her life, Dr Mair had a deep commitment for women’s rights and gender equality in Jamaica (Bush, 2011).

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The Great Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair
Her Contribution to a Caribbean Perspective in Feminism

During the anti-colonial and independence movements there were deliberate efforts by Caribbean women writers such as Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair, to re-engage historical arguments that either made Jamaican women invisible and/or documented them stereo-typically.

Dr. Lucille Mair changed the narrative by writing the history of enslavement of Jamaican men and women from a Caribbean perspective, as opposed to the European perspective.

Essentially, Dr. Mair’s work placed enslaved Caribbean women’s realities accurately in the history books.

But, what made Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair so special was that she belonged to those generation of women who experienced the transition from colonialism to independence in the West Indies and the movement to empower women from that era (Bush, 2011).

A DEEPER LOOK INTO DR. MAIR’S CONTRIBUTION TO A CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE IN FEMINISM

1 Dr. Mair was the first historian to write women into Jamaican history in her publications ‘The Arrivals of Black Women’, published in Jamaica Journal, 1975, and The Rebel Woman in the British West Indies during Slavery (Kingston, 1975: republished, 1995).

2 Dr. Mair’s pioneering research into women’s contribution to the development of Jamaican slave society was documented in her ground breaking PhD thesis which provided a detailed comparative study of white, ‘brown’ and African slave women, providing an innovatory foundation upon which future researchers could build. Her thesis remained unpublished but not unrecognized and thanks to the efforts of Verne Shepherd and Hilary Beckles (now Sir), both professors of history at the University of the West Indies, sensitively edited the original manuscript in honour of their own debt to her. Dr. Mair’s research was finally published in 2006 as “A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655-1844.” by the University of the West Indies Press.

3 Dr. Lucille Mair was the first woman to do a PhD dissertation based on Jamaican women. Her work then influenced a plethora of research into gender and women in the Caribbean.

4 It was through Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair’s work that the Nanny of the Maroon was recognized as Jamaica’s only National Heroine.

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Nanny of the Maroons: Jamaica’s Only Heroine

5 Dr. Lucille Mathurin Mair played a critical role in the establishment of the Institute for Gender & Development Studies and was the first warden of the Mary Seacole Hall on the Mona campus.

Conclusion – Carrying On Dr Lucille Mair’s Legacy
  • Acquire a sense of agency to take action because it is Our Story. Immerse yourself into the Contribution of phenomenal Jamaican activists.
  • Advocate for the rights of women and men to have access to their basic human rights for the betterment of society.
  • Hold media outlets responsible for documenting the lives of Jamaican men and women through a gender sensitive lens.
References

Baksh-Soodeen. (1998). Issues of difference in contemporary Caribbean feminism Rethinking Caribbean Difference. Feminist Review, No. 59, pp. 74-85

Bush, Barbara. (2011). Women’s history month: lucille mathurin-mair (née waldrond), 1924-2009: pioneer of caribbean women’s history. Women’s History Network. Retrieved from https://womenshistorynetwork.org/womens-history-month-lucille-mathurin-mair-nee-waldrond- 1924-2009-pioneer-of-caribbean-womens-history/

Reddock, R. (2007). Diversity, difference and Caribbean feminism: The challenge of anti-racism. A Journal of
Caribbean Perspectives on Gender and Feminism Caribbean Review of Gender Studies. Retrieved from https://sta.uwi.edu/crgs/april2007/journals/Diversity-Feb_2007.pdf.

Sanatan, Amílcar. (2016). Homegrown feminism in the Caribbean. teleSUR. Retrieved from https://www.tel
esurtv.net/English/opinion/Homegrown-Feminism-in-the-Caribbean-20160920-0004.html on October 3, 2018.

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