Thursday, 30 August 2012

(Nearly) Final Programme for Canning House Event

Here is the Final Programme for Wednesday's event at Canning House to discuss Britain's role in the independence of the Bolivarian Republics, primarily Colombia and Venezuela. I'm hoping that one or two extra names will go into the properly final version when we go to press on Wednesday morning. Everyone who attends the event will get a printed version of the Programme when they arrive: so you don't need to print it out in advance. We are expecting a full house so I am very excited!

Britain and the Independence of the Bolivarian Republics
Canning House, 5 September 2012
How did Britain assist the Independence of Spain’s colonies in South America at the beginning of the nineteenth-century? How should this encounter be remembered today, during the bicentennaries of independence?
14.00hrs: Introductory Comments and Welcome
Matthew Brown

14.15hrs: Session 1: New Research on Britain and Independence
Matthew Brown: New Directions in Research on Britain and the Independence of the Bolivarian Republics
Karen Racine: Spanish Americans in London in the Independence-Era
Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat: NE EXEUNT REGNO (“No one is entitled to leave the realm”): Some observations regarding the “Enlistment Act” of 1819 passed by Parliament in order to avoid the recruitment of British volunteers to the Spanish Main
Daniel Gutiérrez Ardila: Leandro Miranda, Publicist and Diplomat between Britain and Colombia (1824-1832)

16.00hrs: Coffee/Tea

16.15hrs: Session 2: Round-table Discussion: ‘Reflections on Legacies, Descendents, Future Research and Commemorations’.
Introduced by Professor Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol. Discussants include: Professor Inés Quintero, Dr. Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, H.E. Dr. Samuel Moncada and H.E. Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera.

18.00hrs: Reception, including book launch of Matthew Brown, The Struggle for Power in Post-Independence Colombia and Venezuela (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2012). All welcome.

Friday, 17 August 2012

What next? / Y ahora qué?

Ecuador's decision yesterday (16 August 2012) to grant political asylum to the Australian national Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder wanted in Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault, has caused all manner of comment and outrage. As I write, Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, his next move uncertain. There is much talk of sovereignty and international law, of Britain's relations with Ecuador and Latin America more generally.

On 5 September, just around the corner at London's Canning House, we will be meeting to discuss many of of these same issues, though our focus will be the events of two hundred years ago which present many similarities to the present affair. Academics Karen Racine, Daniel Gutierrez Ardila and Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat will present new research on the 7,000 British and Irish expeditionaries (or volunteers, mercenaries, or adventurers, call them what we will) who travelled between 1810 and 1822 to South America, and who contributed (some in direct contravention of the 1819 Foreign Enlistment Act) to the independence of the republics we now know as Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Panama: the Bolivarian republics. Their research shows how central Britain was to the establishment of Ecuadorian, Colombian and Venezuelan sovereignty as the former colonies were encouraged to free themselves of Spanish imperial rule.

The second-part of our meeting (which is free and open to all - just register at the Canning House website) will be a round-table discussion of what those relations two centuries ago might mean today, and how they should be commemorated (if at all). Contributors to the round-table will include the Colombian ambassador to the UK, Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera and the Venezuelan ambassador to the UK, Samuel Moncada as well as two eminent public historians Inés Quintero and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea (The Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK, Ana Albán Mora, is understandably very busy at the moment).

Our round-table should provide an opportunity for ideas to surface that might take flight over the next few years, as we move towards the bicentenaries of the 1819 Battle of Boyacá (in Colombia), the 1821 Battle of Carabobo (in Venezuela), and the 1822 Battle of Pichincha (in Ecuador). All those battles featured the participation of important British and Irish figures on the winning sides. Do we/they need more statues, roads named after them or commemorative plaques? Or should we be thinking in terms of continuing the impressive waves of historical studies that have recently emerged, of investigating this historical encounter in greater depth, curating new exhibitions and commissioning public lectures? Or perhaps great cultural events, popular celebrations, or military march-pasts? Is there a role for battlefield tourism, or a space for shared research or cultural projects? Or would contemporary political or economic gestures be a more fitting commemoration of the efforts and sacrifices of volunteers/mercenaries/adventurers two centuries ago?

I am looking forward to hearing our panelists on this topic, and we will welcome contributions from the floor. A podcast of the round-table, with transcription, will appear on this blog after the event. But in the meantime I wonder what comments or suggestions readers of this blog have? Any ideas to get us started?