• 10am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • 10am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Picturing the West India Regiments

Lance Corporal Johnston and Private Castell, West India Regiment, c1888

Join Dr Melissa Bennett as she explores the story of the West India Regiments and considers what we can learn about these soldiers from historic photographs.

During active service, the West India Regiments were regularly talked about in print, and their men were frequently photographed. However, their history is unfamiliar to many of us today.

How did these regiments come to be less well known? Were their achievements simply eclipsed by other military glories? Was too little published about them in mainstream books? Or do they not fit neatly enough, perhaps, into narratives of black history that celebrate revolutionaries, many of whom stood on the opposite side.

In this talk, Dr Melissa Bennett will discuss the history of the West India Regiments, focusing in particular on what we can learn about the men from their photographs and how they were visually represented. She will explore some of their personal stories and achievements, as well as discussing their position more broadly in connection to ideas about race and empire.

Dr Melissa Bennett is a researcher and community engagement professional working at the intersection of heritage and public policy. She is currently working on a number of projects related to diversity in public space, community storytelling and photographic history.

Her PhD, ‘Picturing the West India Regiments’, investigated connections between race, photography and empire through the lens of the photographic archive of the West India Regiment. She has travelled across the UK, USA, and Caribbean to piece this archive together.

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."