Special Event in Memory of Alistair Hennessy
The forthcoming Cuban Research Forum Annual Conference at Nottingham University, on the 8th to the 10th September 2014, will feature a special panel to celebrate Alistair Hennessy on the 9th September 2014 from 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Please see the full conference programme for more details of this panel and the other events of the conference.
Alistair Hennessy joined Warwick’s History Department shortly after the University’s foundation and he retired as one of the Department’s longest-serving members. He began his academic career as an historian of modern Europe, but after writing an important book on republicanism in nineteenth-century Spain, his interest in the Hispanic world broadened to encompass the history of Latin America and the Americas more generally. In the course of a dynamic and fruitful career, he made a great contribution to developing Warwick’s reputation for innovative and engaging historical studies, and to widening the scope of American Studies in the UK.
His own special contribution was to engineer the establishment of the School of Comparative American Studies (CAS), a degree course which received its first students in 1974 and continues to flourish today. CAS was his brainchild and favourite venture, reflecting his desire to challenge conventional intellectual and disciplinary boundaries. He rejected Cold War categories which portrayed the world in terms of East and West and called attention to the significance of relations between North and South; he insisted that American history and American Studies had to be more than the study of the United States; he proposed the study of the Americas as whole, comparing where possible the histories and cultures of Latin America, the United States, Canada and the Caribbean; and, last but not least, he looked to the future by launching a degree which was multi-disciplinary and bilingual, with opportunities to learn Spanish, to take courses across departments, and to spend a year studying at a university in the Americas.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Alistair subsequently developed another branch of American studies at Warwick by playing a leading part in founding the Centre for Caribbean Studies, which in turn became a prominent focus for historical and literary work on the Caribbean. The CAS degree, his book The Frontier in Latin American History, his numerous essays and articles on subjects which ranged from the histories of Cuba and Anglo-Argentine relations to Latin American intellectuals and Chicano culture, together with the Caribbean Studies book series which he created and co-edited, all stand as testimony to the intellectual vision, passion and energy for which he will be long remembered.