Season 2, Episode 3: What it means to be Black in the Union Jack

In this episode of the Decolonization in Action Podcast, edna bonhomme and Dr. Christienna Fryar discuss the history of Britain and the Caribbean and what it means to be teaching 500 years of Black British history. Recognizing that Black British history has only recently starting to gain institutional support in the British academy, Dr. Fryar puts institutional practices in context, discussing how history departments have for so long separated the colonial history of the British Empire from British domestic history as well as marginalized histories of migration within the UK and intellectual contributions of Black Britons. Sharing her work on Jamaica post-emancipation and Britain after the abolition of slavery in 1834, Dr. Fryar refutes and carefully unpacks the implications of the national myth of humanitarian Britain after abolition and exposes ongoing racism and imperial expansion after the end of slavery. Linking this myth and the division between the British imperial and domestic histories with the present-day realities in the Caribbean and for Black Britons, especially in reference to the recent Windrush crisis, Dr. Fryar addresses what is at stake when the colonial past and its aftermath are not fully accounted for.


Dr. Christienna Fryar is a historian of Britain and the Caribbean, focusing on Britain’s imperial entanglements in the Caribbean region. Her work embeds modern British history within the fields of comparative slavery and emancipation, and she is finishing a book about disaster politics and imperial governance in postemancipation Jamaica. She occasionally comments—usually on Twitter—about the state of higher education in the US and the UK. She is also a 2020 AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker.


Chritienna Fryar, “The Narrative of Ann Pratt: Life-Writing, Genre and Bureaucracy in a Postemancipation Scandal,” History Workshop Journal 85 (Spring 2018): 265-279. 

Chritienna Fryar, “The Work of Disappointment,” critical essay on Yarimar Bonilla, Non-Sovereign Futures: French Caribbean Politics in the Wake of Disenchantment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015) in Small Axe 21, no. 2 (July 2017): 193-200.

Chritienna Fryar, “Imperfect Models: The Kingston Lunatic Asylum Scandal and the Problem of Postemancipation Imperialism,” Journal of British Studies 55, no. 4 (Oct. 2016): 709-727.

Chritienna Fryar, “The Moral Politics of Cholera in Postemancipation Jamaica,” Slavery & Abolition 34, no. 4 (2013): 598-618.

Chritienna Fryar, “Decolonising History: Enquiry and Practice,” conversation roundtable piece with Amanda Behm, Emma Hunter, Elisabeth Leake, Su Lin Lewis, and Sarah Miller-Davenport, History Workshop Journal 89 (Spring 2020): 169-191 


Interviews, recordings, and post-production by edna bonhomme
Assistance by Kristyna Comer

Music by NALALIONGIRL (442612, Attribution License, Creative Commons) and X3nus (450539, Attribution License, Creative Commons)