The American Historical Association has voted to select Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles as its Honorary Foreign Scholar for 2023.
The Association has annually recognised a foreign scholar since 1885, and the list includes the most acclaimed international historians. Beginning with Leopold von Ranke (1885), it showcases well-known names such as George Trevelyan (1944), Sir Winston Churchill (1963), Fernand Braudel (1966), Eric Hobsbawm (1994) and Ramachandra Guha (2019).
Past President of the Association, and Distinguished Professor at University of Wisconsin, James H. Sweet noted, “It is the judgement of the Association that the contribution of Professor Beckles, to historical scholarship, his efforts to internationalise historical study, and his crucial role as a mentor to other scholars does great honour to the discipline.”
Furthermore, Professor Sweet said, “In addition to his superb scholarship, activism, and administrative work at The UWI, Beckles has been a selfless supporter of scholars from around the world, including the United States. He has served as a Council Member for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, and as International Editor for the Journal of American History. Over the course of his career, he has offered personal support to U.S. professors and graduate students conducting research in the Caribbean.”
The Honorary Foreign Scholar award was presented at the Association’s 2023 ceremony in Philadelphia on January 5, 2023. In response, Professor Beckles noted, “This award by my American peers is among the greatest of academic honours, which I accept on behalf of The UWI that gave me the opportunity as a young historian to develop and contribute at the global level.”
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is the second Caribbean scholar to receive the award, following the legendary Cuban historian Manuel M. Fraginals in 1998. The 2023 honour also follows Professor Beckles’ 2022 appointment as the President’s Honorary Visiting Distinguished Scholar at Cornell University, for six years.