The University of the West Indies (UWI), at Cave Hill, Barbados

The University of the West Indies

at Cave Hill, Barbados

Office of the Principal

Welcome About the Principal's Office Principal's Biography Contact Us

Extended Biography of the Principal


Hilary Beckles was born in Barbados in 1955.  He attended secondary school in Barbados and Birmingham in the U K.  He received his higher education in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Economic History from Hull University in 1976 and a PhD from the same University in 1980. In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters for outstanding work as a scholar from his alma mater. 


He joined the History Department at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus in 1979 as a lecturer; in 1984 he transferred to the Cave Hill Campus in Barbados and was promoted to a personal professorship in 1993 at age thirty-seven, the youngest in the history of UWI.


Beckles has served the University as a Head of the History Department and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities. In 1994 he won the first University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the field of research.  In 1998 he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Principal Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies and returned to the Mona Campus. In August 2002 he returned to Cave Hill as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal. 

Beckles is an internationally reputed historian and serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals including the Journal of Caribbean History, William and Mary Quarterly, the flagship journal of the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg Virginia, and an international panel for the Journal of American History. He is also the Chair, Board of Directors of the University of the West Indies Press.  He is Director of Cable and Wireless B’dos Ltd., as well as Sagicor Financial Inc.  He has lectured at universities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.  He served for five years as a member of the Cultural Committee of His Royal Highness, Prince Claus of the Netherlands.

Beckles has published over ten monographs, including:

  1. Liberties Lost: The Native Caribbean and Slave Societies (Cambridge University Press, 2004, White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados 1627-1715;
  2. Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society;
  3. The History of Barbados (Cambridge University Press, 1990);
  4. Corporate Power in Barbados: Economic Injustice in a Political Democracy, 1990;
  5. Natural Rebels: A History of Enslaved Black Women in the Caribbean (Rutgers University Press, 1989);
  6. and more recently a two-volume work on West Indies cricket, The Development of West Indies Cricket: Volume One, The Age of Nationalism; and Volume Two, The Age of Globalisation, (Pluto Press 1999).  The Development of West Indies Cricket was described in Wisden Cricket Monthly, August 1999 as “the most important cricket book ever written”.
  7. His book, A Nation Imagined: The First West Indies Test Team: The 1928 Tour (Ian Randle Publishers, June 2003) was commissioned by the West Indies Cricket Board to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of West Indies Cricket.

He is a member of the International Task Force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project and is principal consultant for resource material in the schools programme.  He is also Consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme.  He is an advisor to the UN World Culture Report. In 2002 he led the Barbados national delegation to the UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa.


In recent years he has given several lectures on the challenges facing higher education thinking and planning in the Caribbean.  He is co-author of a recent book entitled, “The Brain Train: Quality Higher Education and Caribbean Development,” a monograph published in April 2002.  He chairs the UWI Task Force on the Globalization and Liberalization of Higher Education.


Beckles is a keen cricketer and researcher of cricket history and culture.  He established a Barbados Cricket Association record in 1994 when he became the first player in Barbados to make the most runs and take the most wickets in a season playing for the UWI in the Intermediate Division. He is the founder and Director of the CLR James Centre for Cricket Research at Cave Hill Campus; and was a Director of Caribbean Cricket World Cup 2007 Inc.

Finally, he is overall coordinator of sports for the three campuses at UWI.


January 11, 2006