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Workshop: The Demerara Rebellion (1823) and Letters of Sandbach Tinne & Co


On 19 August Senate House Library hosted a workshop in collaboration with the Guyanese community group Guyana SPEAKS to mark the 200th anniversary of the Demerara Rebellion.

Participants engage with the original letters from the Sandbach Tinné & Co archive

The workshop marked the 200th anniversary of the Demerara Rebellion, an uprising of 10,000 enslaved Africans in the colony of Demerara (a county in present-day Guyana).

By engaging with the business correspondence of the sugar and coffee trading company Sandbach Tinné & Co. prior, during, and after the rebellion the workshop aimed to explore and amplify the silenced voices of the African Caribbean abolitionists and to centre their lived experiences.

The event was introduced with talks by Dr Juanita Cox, Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, and Alison Clark, a descendant of a founding partner of Sandbach Tinné & Co and PhD candidate in history at the University of Edinburgh.

Participants engaged with the original letters from the archive and a transcription exercise. A highlight of the day was a drumming performance by Ras Happa, Ras Chauncey, Vée Belinga and Christxpher Oliver. The creative writing segment was facilitated by writer, facilitator and teacher Carinya Sharples, who is pursuing a PhD at the University of Leicester on contemporary Guyanese literature.

The workshop was based on an on-going library project to digitise and transcribe the over 800 letters of Sandbach, Tinné and Co held in our collections together with members of Guyana SPEAKS and the wider Caribbean diaspora.

The first phase was funded by the University of London Knowledge Exchange Fund. We are collaborating with the School of Advanced Study Digital Humanities Hub to explore the use of the AI powered handwritten text recognition software Transkribus for the transcription process.

Library visitors can still enjoy a small display about the Demerara Rebellion featuring original letters from the Sandbach Tinné & Co archives in the Membership Hall until the end of September.