Professor Colin Clarke

Emeritus Professor of Geography

Academic Profile

Professor Colin Clarke is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University and an Emeritus Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. He has taught at the Universities of Toronto and Liverpool, where was, until 1981, Reader in Geography and Latin American Studies. He carried out numerous field investigations in Mexico and the Caribbean, and has published 18 books and more than one 120 papers and book chapters. In 2011-12 he was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, carrying out funded research into the Holocaust in wartime Germany and the occupied territories; this work formed the second part of a project to compare this racist regime with slavery in the British colonial Caribbean.

He is the author of Kingston, Jamaica: Urban Development and Social Change, 1692-1962 (University of California Press, 1975), East Indians in a West Indian Town: San Fernando, 1930-1970 (Allen and Unwin, 1986), Class, Ethnicity and Community in Southern Mexico: Oaxaca's Peasantries (Oxford University Press, 2000), Kingston, Jamaica: Urban Development and Social Change (Ian Randle Publishers, 2006), Decolonising the Colonial City: Urbanization and Stratification in Kingston, Jamaica (Oxford University Press, 2006), Post-Colonial Trinidad: An Ethnographic Journal (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) co-authored with Gillian Clarke; Race, Class and the Politics of Decolonization: Jamaica Journals, 1961 and 1968 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and Mexico and the Caribbean Under Castro's Eyes: A Journal of Decolonization, State Formation & Democratization (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), editor of Society and Politics in the Caribbean (St Anthony's / Macmillan 1991), co-author of A Geography of the Third World (Methuen, 1983; second edition Routledge, 1996), and co-editor of Geography and Ethnic Pluralism (Allen and Unwin, 1984), Politics, Security and Development in Small States (Allen and Unwin, 1987), and South Asians Overseas (Cambridge, 1990).

Professor Clarke has been an editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research, and a member of the editorial board of the Third World Planning Review, the European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Cahiers d'Outre Mer. He was Chairman of the Society for Caribbean Studies, UK (and a Life Member since 2004); President of the European Association for Research on Central America and the Caribbean (and President for Life); and Chairman of the Society for Latin American Studies, UK. He received the Gold Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 1999, and in 2003 was 'lifted up' by Sri Chinmoi to mark his contribution to human development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2004 he was awarded the degree of D.Litt., Oxford in recognition of his research and publications on Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2019 the Tutorial Fellowship in Physical Geography at Jesus College was named the Paul Paget Colin Clarke Fellowship. Paul Paget was a Lecturer in Geography at Oxford and Fellow of Jesus; he, too, was a Caribbean specialist, Colin Clarke's tutor and doctoral supervisor, and they served the college sequentially as Fellows for a period of 46 years.

At Oxford Professor Clarke has been a Tutor for Admissions at Jesus College, Chairman of the Faculty Board of Anthropology and Geography, Chairman of the Inter-Faculty Committee for Latin-American Studies, and Head of the School of Geography and the Environment.

Current Research

Professor Clarke research interests include urbanization in developing countries, especially the Caribbean and Latin America; race, ethnicity and class; peasantries; and the problems of small, recently de-colonized states. His regions of specialization are Latin America and the Caribbean, and more recently Central Europe. He is a geographer whose research interests overlap with history, anthropology and sociology.

Professor Clarke has recently signed a contract for a book with Palgrave Macmillan which will bring his previous research on slavery in the Caribbean into a relationship with his work on the Holocaust at the Max Plank Institute in Göttingen. The book is to be entitled Racist Regimes, Forced Labour and Death: British Slavery in the Colonial Caribbean and the Holocaust in Germany and Occupied Europe, and it is anticipated that it will take two to three years to write.

The purpose of this research is to compare the systems of exploitative race relations associated with these two racist regimes, both believing in their own inherent racial superiority - black slavery in the British colonial Caribbean and the German-instigated Jewish Holocaust in Germany and the Nazi-occupied lands in Europe. Each system was introduced by expansionist European powers through racist enslavement, transportation, dehumanisation and the destruction of human life. But the construction and operation of sugar plantations by African slave labour for the export of tropical products, and the mass murder of Jewish civilians during the Second World War for the purpose of creating a forced-labour regime and ethnic cleansing, were not, of course, the same.

Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of these two companion studies will reveal comparisons and contrasts previously unexplored in the field of race relations under colonialism and the Holocaust - the British Caribbean regime being colonial-racist and comparable to the German regime, de facto colonial and racist. There is, however, a difference between them: whereas Caribbean slavery reduced black labourers to non-persons, and treated them inhumanely by working them to death, Nazi racism systematically stripped German Jews of their political and legal rights and sought to use them as forced labour and/or remove them from German soil, only later to exterminate them and the other European Jews in what became Nazi-occupied Europe - the arena for subjugation and colonization of the Slavs. Ruth Kluger (2003), a Jewish forced labourer and survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, has recently argued:

'We would be condemned to be isolated monads if we didn't compare and generalize, for comparisons are the bridges from one unique life to another. In our hearts we all know that some aspects of the Shoah have been repeated elsewhere, today and yesterday, and will return in new guise tomorrow; and the camps, too, were only imitations (unique imitations, to be sure) of what had occurred the day before yesterday.'