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Seminar: The Moyne Commission

In this seminar, we will examine the conclusions and recommendations of the West India Royal Commission of 1938-39 – otherwise known as the Moyne Commission after its chair, Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne - which was set up in response to the social and political unrest across British Caribbean in the 1930s.

- introduce and contextualise the Moyne Commission;

- set out what the Commission identified as the 'problem of the West Indies' and explain the origins of this 'problem'.


Seminar questions

  • According to the Moyne Commission, what is the 'problem of the West Indies'. What were the origins of this 'problem'?
  • What solutions did the Moyne Commission propose and what was not considered?
  • What institutions, organisations and social groups did the Moyne Commission draw on for its evidence? Who was excluded?

Required reading

Secondary works

Fraser, Cary, 'The twilight of colonial rule in the British West Indies: Nationalist assertion vs. imperial hubris in the 1930s', The Journal of Caribbean History, 30 (1996), pp. 1-27.

Primary sources

Part V, 'Conclusions and recommendations' in Great Britain, [Report of] West India Royal Commission (1938-1939)

Further reading

Secondary works

Green, Cecilia A., 'The 1938-1939 Moyne Commission in Barbados: investigating the status of children', Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, 11 (2014), pp. 515-535.

Primary sources

Great Britain, 'Statement of policy on colonial development and welfare', presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Feburary 1940.

Great Britain, 'Statement of action taken on the recommendations [of the] West India Royal Commission (1938-1939)', presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, June 1945.