The Indian Diaspora council International (IDC) congratulates Professor Clem Seecharan for the honor of D.Litt (Doctor of Letters) bestowed on him by the University of the West Indies (St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago) on 28th October 2017. The honor was in recognition of Prof. Seecharan’s scholarship in Indo-Caribbean history and the history of West Indies cricket, as well as for his teaching of Caribbean History, having been Head of Caribbean Studies at London Metropolitan University for nearly 20 years.
Born in the small village of Palmyra in Berbice, Guyana, 67 years ago, he is being honoured for his prolific research and writings on Indo-Caribbean history and the history of West Indies cricket, as well as for his teaching of Caribbean history for over 25 years. Clem was the Head of Caribbean Studies for nearly 20 years at London Metropolitan University, where he is Emeritus Professor of History since 2012.
Professor Seecharan was educated at Berbice Educational Institute, Queen’s College, Mc Master University (Canada) and the University of Warwick (England) – the first person to get a Ph.D from the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick.
Professor Seecharan is the author of over a dozen books, several of which have earned recognition in academia. His book, Sweetening Bitter Sugar:Jock Campbell, the Booker Reformer in British Guiana, was awarded the prestigious Elsa Goveia Prize in 2005 by the Association of Caribbean Historians. They considered this book ‘a magisterial account that manoeuvres the reader through one of the most painfully fragmentary periods of Guyanese history…elegantly written…a genuinely majestic work’. Of his book, From Ranji to Rohan: Cricket and Indian Identity in Colonial Guyana, the eminent Indian Professor of Columbia University, Partha Chatterjee, has written: ‘This is a serious book on cricket and its socio-cultural implications in Guyana. It bears comparison with C.L.R. James’s classic, Beyond a Boundary’.
His other books include Tiger in the Stars: the Anatomy of Indian Achievement in British Guiana; Bechu: ‘Bound Coolie’ Radical in British Guiana; Mother India Shadow over El Dorado: Indo-Guyanese Politics and Identity, 1890s-1930s; Muscular Learning: Cricket and Education in the Making of the British West Indies; and Finding Myself: Essays on Race, Politics and Culture.
Clem is currently working on a three-volume study called Hand-in-Hand History of Cricket in Guyana, the first volume of which was published in 2016; the second will be published at the end of this year. Petamber Persaud (the Guyanese journalist) observes that Clem ‘came from a bookless world but…has become the most prolific writer on the Indian travails and triumphs in Guyana’. And one of Clem’s publishers, Jeremy Poynting, remarked recently: ‘Quietly (though this is not the immediate word one thinks of with Clem Seecharan) he has become a very significant Caribbean intellectual presence. Who has written better about cricket since C.L.R. James?’
In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, before the Chancellor of UWI, Mr Robert Bermudez, the Vice-Chancellor of UWI Professor Hillary Beckles and the Principal of the St Augustine Campus, Professor Brian Copeland, Professor Seecharan counselled the young graduates in the Humanities thus: ‘I rarely feel the compulsion to look over my shoulders; I am not afraid to challenge sacred cows. Fortified by your learning and with experience, you, too, will build the confidence to fight your corner. Don’t let anyone intimidate you into abandoning any principle you consider worthy of defending. And the time to do so is when you still have the freedom to do so’.
Among Professor Seecharan’s guests at the award ceremony were his wife Chris Vaughan; his friend of 60 years, Dr Tulsi Singh and his wife Claudette; Dr Puran Singh and Mrs Savitree Singh; Professor Bridget Brereton; Professor Brinsley Samaroo; former West Indies wicket-keeper, Deryck Murray; Mr Seenath Jairam, SC; Dr Primnath Gooptar and Mr Ashraf Ali.