Jamaican Dr. Shani Roper, the curator of the University of the West Indies UWI Museum and the co-president of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), will make a presentation at the 32nd annual conference of the MAC, which is scheduled to run from March 1 to March 5, 2023, in Nassau, Bahamas. The theme of the conference, which is the first to be held in person since 2019, is “The Power of Museums: Relevancy, Advocacy, Transformation.”
Dr. Roper’s panel will present arguments to show that research creates opportunities for the development of effective museum programming that results in transformational interventions in the museum community. Overall, presentations at the conference will explore the way the role of museums and cultural heritage sites are evolving and ways for museums to remain relevant while advocating for change and providing transformative experiences for their visitors and communities.
Dr. Roper’s specialty is the history of Caribbean childhoods, focusing on children who were institutionalized in Jamaica between 1858 and 1951. Her project entitled “Eradicate before you Educate: Juvenile Criminality and Social Control in Colonial Jamaica 1869 – 1948” is an exploration of the ways that changing ideas about juvenile delinquency intersected with colonial discussions of sexuality, social pathology, and the regulation of social behavior. Dr. Roper’s other research interests involve the intersection of museums and the history of trauma in the Caribbean region, the methods and practice of teaching Caribbean history, and museum education. She believes that museums are found at the junction of community development and an educational experience that is empowering and subversive.
Dr. Roper graduated from the Department of History at the UWI Mona campus and is trained as a social historian. Her interests include public history and museum education and the history of Caribbean childhoods and juvenile delinquency. She believes museums provide accessible spaces that offer the chance to explore complicated stories and themes while simultaneously promoting critical thinking.
She earned a PhD in history from Rice University and served as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer at Smith College’s Department of Africana Studies. She began her museum career as an Assistant Curator in the Museum of History and Ethnography, now the National Museum of Jamaica. She has also served as Education Officer at the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica; Research Officer, Liberty Hall: the Legacy of Marcus Garvey; and Acting Director, Liberty Hall. She curated the exhibition “Jamaica 50” in 2012 as part of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebrations of independence. She has written articles on Afro-Jamaican childhood and social policy that were published in Jamaica in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, Journal of Caribbean History, and Caribbean Studies. Currently, she is researching the role of museums in communities, sustainable heritage development, and approaches to teaching the study of history.
The conference is being organized through a partnership of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), the National Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), the Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBB), the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation (AAMC), and the University of the Bahamas (UB).