Barnes, Dr. Clarice

The Sixth Lecture

in the

Memorial Lecture Series for Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell

Thursday November 14

The Chance Pond Mermaid and Diamond Snake Meme: Contending Issues in Gathering Our Volcano Stories

The Chance’s Pond Mermaid and Diamond Snake folk tales are used as the starting point in exploring lived experiences of the Soufriere Hills Volcano from a decolonizing research perspective. It is argued that in utilising this perspective the voices of the people on Montserrat and their knowledge of the volcano are acknowledged as of critical importance in determining how their stories are collected, interpreted, and utilised. Methods of story gathering that objectify insider knowledge are criticised. Finally, it is argued that the decolonising research approach is transformative of both participant and researcher. 

Vernie Clarice Chambers Barnes is an independent scholar specialising in the Psychosocial Effects of the Montserrat Volcanic Disaster, Coping and Intervention.

Formerly Professor of Education and Psychology at the William VS Tubman University Liberia; Visiting lecturer in Public Health in Developing Countries at the University of Birmingham;   Programme Officer of the Women and Development Unit (WAND) University of West Indies, Barbados.

Developer and Host for nearly 15 years of “Under the Tamarind Tree” through which participants from Montserrat, the Caribbean and elsewhere share oral histories on ZJB Radio Montserrat. 

Publications and Talks to include:

  • Barnes VC. (2019). Wretched of the Earth” Vulnerabilities/Capacities of Women In Disaster: Some Intersectional Issues (Work in Progress)
  • Barnes VC. (2018). “Mother’s Day Musings From Under the Tamarind Tree”-An Interview with Peggy Antrobus. Interviewing the Caribbean, Volume 2.
  • Barnes VC. (2017). Inclusive Education: Perspectives on Pedagogy, Policy and Practice-Two chapters on Post-Conflict and Disaster Perspectives from Liberia and Montserrat. Edited by Zeta Brown, Routledge Education Series
  • Barnes VC. (2017). “A Yuh Look Pan Hell Wuk Yah”-Identity Conflicts in a British Overseas Territory. Paper presented at the Anguilla Open Campus Country Conference, April
  • Barnes VC. (2015) Volcano@20 Discerning Shifting Rhythms and Beat. Annual Saint Patricks Day Lecture, Open Conference, Montserrat
  • Barnes VC. (2014).The Mandela Legacy: Feminist Perspectives-Panel Presentation at WVS Tubman University Harper Maryland Republic of Liberia, March.
  • Barnes VC. (2012) Masquerading in Montserrat: Significance, Motifs and Implications for Children/Youth Development-Paper presented at a Symposium entitled The Masquerade Lives, Guyana , Ministry of Education December 13-14
  • Barnes VC. (2011) The Montserrat Volcanic Eruption Fifteen Years On: Adolescent Self-Perceptions and Identity, Paper presented at the Montserrat Volcano Conference, MVO, Cultural Centre Montserrat
  • Barnes VC. (2010) Post-Colonial Hybridity as Represented In Arrow’s “Proud to be Montserratian-Paper presented at the Annual Arrow Symposium, Cultural Centre Montserrat
  • Barnes VC. (2009) The Psychosocial Effects of the Montserrat Volcanic Disaster: Some Reflections Fourteen Years On, La Semaine De La Caribe CORECA Guadeloupe
  • Barnes VC. (2007) “Holding On Or Letting Go”: Experiences from the Montserrat Volcanic Eruption, Methodist Magnet, UK
  • Barnes VC. (2006). Psychosocial Effects of the Montserrat Volcanic Eruption and Coping: Some Reflections Ten Years On, Fourth Conference Cities on Volcanoes (IAVCEI) Quito-Ecuador
  • Barnes VC. (2002) Shepherding in Ashy Times: Pastoral Care with Volcano Displaced Montserratians in the UK. Paper presented at Montserrat Conference, University of West Indies School of Continuing Studies
  • Barnes VC. (2001) “Stress “Bussin” or Counselling in the Montserrat Volcanic Disaster. Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies, Vol. 26 No.3 September
  • Barnes VC. (2001) A Gender Analysis of the Psychosocial Effects and Coping in the Montserrat Disaster. Journal of Eastern Caribbean Studies, Vol. 26 No.2 June
  • Barnes VC. (2000) God Talk in Disaster: Some Gendered Experiences from Montserrat. Journal of Black Theology in Britain, Issue 5,
  • Barnes VC. and Bradshaw R. (2000) Affirming God’s Presence in Natural Disaster. In Joe Aldridge (2000) Praying with Power, New York Cassell
  • Barnes VC. (2000) The Montserrat Volcanic Disaster: A study of Meaning, Psycho-social Effects, Coping and Intervention. PhD thesis, University of Birmingham UK






Browne, Christene


Born in St. Kitts, Christene Browne moved with her family to Toronto, Canada in 1970.She enrolled in the Film Studies program at Ryerson in 1985 and started her production company, Syncopated Productions Inc. in 1990.

Her first two films Brothers in Music, a film about two struggling jazz musicians, and No Choices, a film that looked at the abortion issue and how it relates to women living in poverty, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1991 and launched Browne’s film career.  From that time onward Browne has consistently produced work that has examined the intersection of race, class and gender. 

She has worked independently and has business relationships with the National Film Board of Canada, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, OMNI TV, Starz, PBS BET, Al Jazeera and others.  Her films have won numerous awards and have been screened and broadcast internationally. In 1999, Browne completed the semi-autobiographical film Another Planet, her first dramatic feature film and the first feature film to be directed by a Black woman in Canada.

In 2008, she completed Speaking in Tongues: The History of Language, a ground breaking five-part documentary series that looks at the History of Language from pre-historic time to the present day.  Noam Chomsky and many other notable linguists are featured in this series. This film received the 2011 Visionary Documentary award from the Women International Film and Television Showcase.

In 2013, her first novel, Two Women, a cautionary tale about two women who share the same soul was published. In 2016, she completed a Masters in Communication and Culture, an interdisciplinary joint program of York University and Ryerson University.  Most recently, Browne completed her second novel, Philomena (Unloved), a story about a woman who lives a life devoid of love and which is set partially in Montserrat.

In addition to her film and literary work, Browne has also worked as a film programmer, curator and media arts instructor. She is currently, working on her third novel, doing the promotion for a feature length documentary about the redevelopment of Regent Park, a low-income community in Toronto where Browne spent her formative years and lecturing in the Radio and Televisions Arts (RTA) department at Ryerson University.


Grills, Dr. Cheryl Tawede

Dr. Cheryl Grills is a Clinical Psychologist with a current emphasis in Community Psychology.  A national Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists, Dr. Grills, is a tenured, Full Professor at Loyola Marymount University and Director of the Psychology Applied Research Center.

She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Los Angeles County Sybil Brand Commission which addresses conditions and practices within adult LA County jails, youth probation and correctional facilities, and group homes for children. She also served as Co-Executive Director of Los Angeles County’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection leading to important changes in the child welfare system. As part of the Association of Black Psychologists’ team, Dr. Grills co-designed the Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles community self-help model developed by The Community Healing Network and is the leader of the EE Circles Training Team.  She trains people of African ancestry around the world.

Her research interests, publications, and projects include African Psychology, mental health prevention and treatment with African-Americans, substance abuse, community psychology, community mental health, and applied research as well as program evaluation with community-based organizations engaged in community organizing on a host of social justice issues. Among others, she currently leads research and evaluation on the California Reducing Disparities Project—a mental health disparities project; a CDC REACH grant on health equity issues; and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant examining community organizing as a public health strategy to address childhood obesity in communities of color.

Among others, her publications include:

  • African psychology and the global movement for freedom from the lie of Black inferiority. Alternation, in press.
  • African, Black, neither or both? Models and strategies developed and implemented by the Association of Black Psychologists. Journal of Black Psychology, 44(8), 791-826.
  • Breathe, baby, breathe: Clearing the way for the emotional emancipation of Black people. Journal of Cultural Studies and Critical Methodologies. 16(3), 333-343.
  • Culture, racial socialization, and positive youth development. Journal of Black Psychology, 42(4) 343–373 1-31.
  • African psychology. In R. Jones (Ed). African psychology. Hampton, VA: Cobb and Henry.
  • Reflections on the culturally adaptive model of counseling for persons of African descent: An African centered perspective. In: Gallardo, Yeh, Parham, & Trimble (Eds.). Working Culturally and Responsively with Persons of African, Asian, Latino, and Native Descent: The Culturally Adaptive Model of Counseling. Woodland Hills: Sage Publications.
  • Making the invisible visible: Identifying and articulating culture in practice-based evidence. American Journal of Community Psychology, 1-14.
  • The geography of crime and violence surrounding tobacco shops, medical marijuana dispensaries, and off-sale alcohol outlets in a large, urban low-income community of color. Preventive Medicine, 108, 8-16.
  • Empowerment Praxis: Community Organizing to Redress Systemic Health Disparities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58 (3-4), 488-498.
  • Community organizing for healthier communities: Environmental and policy outcomes of a national initiative. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51(6), 916-925.
  • Engaging homeless youth in Community-Based Participatory Research: A case study from Skid Row, Los Angeles. Health Promotion and Practice, 1524839912472904, 18-27.
  • California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) Phase 2 Statewide Evaluation: Best Practices in Community Based Participatory Practice. Prepared under California Department of Public Health contract # 15-10603. Psychology Applied Research Center. Los Angeles, CA: Loyola Marymount University.
  • The Association of Black Psychologists: Context, Perspective, and Mission of ABPsi – Present & Future. The Journal of Black Psychology,39 (3), 276-283.

Martin, Edwin


Edwin Martin has been a journalist for 33 years. He worked at the Miami Herald from 1986 to 2016 in several capacities, including feature writer, reporter, senior copy editor and online producer. One of the highlights of his early career came in 1991 when he interviewed the great Michael Jordan. Martin, a native of Montserrat, migrated to the United States at age 10. In 1987 he was the recipient of two prestigious scholarships: Garth Reeves Sr. (for minority students) and Society of Professional Journalists. He graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Print Journalism from Florida International University with a minor in Political Science. At the Miami Herald he was twice awarded “Editor of the Quarter” for his headline writing and spearheading of special sections.

In 2017, Martin published Stranded Batsman: The Jim Allen Story, his first major book. It has been critically praised by several publications, including CricketWeb.Net, which wrote: “Martin has done a splendid job of reconstructing Allen’s story. The story that Martin tells is a thought-provoking one, very well written and thoroughly researched.” Martin also writes and sings calypso as a hobby and has entered competitions in Miami and Montserrat. He has also published two booklets about Montserrat’s Christmas Festival: Montserrat Festival 45thAnniversary Commemoration in 2007, and Montserrat Festival: This is us in 2017. He is also an avid cricket fan and has interviewed some of the greatest in the sport, including Brian Lara, Sir Garfield Sobers, Viv Richards and Sir Wes Hall.

He launched the website Montserrat Spotlight ( on February 5, 2019. The site focuses on feature stories about Montserrat history with occasional hard news. The site’s motto is: “Our people, our stories. Our history.” Martin is currently working on his fourth publication called “100 Years of Montserrat Cricket.”

Senior, Olive


Olive Senior is the prizewinning author of 18 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Her latest is the picture book BoonoonoonousHairwith illustrations by Laura James.

Her many literary awards include the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first book, Summer Lightningand most recently the 2016 OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature for The Pain Tree. In 2015, she won the OCM Bocas non-fiction prize for Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canalwhich wasalso the Joint winner of the Caribbean Studies Association 2015 Lewis Prize and Finalist for the Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards 2015 (history category).

Her poetry book Over the Roofs of the Worldwas a finalist for Canada’s Governor-General’s Award and her children’s book Anna Carries Water is among the 20 books recommended by New York City Reads 365 for grade 1.

Her many honours and awards include the Gold Musgrave Medal of the Institute of Jamaica and an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) from the University of the West Indies.

Her work has been translated into many languages and is taught internationally. Her poetry book Gardening in the Tropicswas on the CAPE syllabus for Caribbean schools for 14 years and has been translated into several languages including Arabic.

She is the subject of the book Olive Senior by Denise deCaires Narain in the Writers and their Work series, UK: Northcote Publishers, 2011.   

Olive Senior lectures and conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Humber College, Toronto.



Bernard, Emily

Emily Bernard is the Julian Lindsay Green & Gold Professor of English. She holds a B. A. and a Ph. D. in American Studies from Yale University.

Bernard has received fellowships from the Alphonse A. Fletcher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Arts Council, and the W. E. B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. She was the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Senior Research Fellow in African American Studies at Yale University. Her published works include: Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, which was a New York TimesNotable Book of the Year; Some of My Best Friends: Writers on Interracial Friendship, which was chosen by the New York Public Library as a Book for the Teen Age; and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, which received a 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Her book, Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance: A Portrait in Black and White, was published by Yale University Press in 2012.Her most recent work,Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, was released in January 2019. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Lovecalls Black is the Body: “one of the most beautiful, elegant memoirs I’ve ever read.”

Bernard’s essays have been reprinted in several “Best Of” anthologies, and her books have been praised in O Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, the New York Times, Essence Magazine, the New York Review of Books, and on National Public Radio. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Emily Bernard lives in Burlington, Vermont with her husband, author and professor, John Gennari, and their twin thirteen-year old daughters.