Online ISSN: 2221-7886

Volume 2, Number 1 (2011)
Dogmatic Eurocentric Historiography in the Movie Amazing Grace of Freedom
Gelien Matthews
The movie Amazing Grace of Freedom, directed by Michael Apted, was released in 2007 to coincide with the commemoration of the bicentennial anniversary of the British abolition of the trade in captured Africans. There is absolutely no denying the fact that it is singularly aimed at perpetuating the dominant and traditional historiography on British abolitionism. The movie reinforces the old interpretation that the primary movers and shakers of the British anti-slavery movement consisted of a small circle of white, predominantly male abolitionists in Britain who were motivated by nothing less than humanitarian and Christian principles. This was the view taken by Frank Klingberg when he published The British Anti-Slavery Movement: A Study in British Humanitarianism as far back as 1926 and by Reginald Coupland in his work The British Anti Slavery Movement published in 1933.i The movie shows no respect or regard for, and interest in the years of revisionist scholarship on Caribbean slavery in general produced by such historians as Eric Williams, Kamau Brathwaite, Richard Hart, Hilary Beckles and Gelien Matthews, to name a few. By the dawn of the 21st century with its new and improved technology and with the power, reach and influence of the film historian, it is regrettable that the old and narrow but dominant perspective on British abolition has remained totally unchanged.