Honorary UWI degree could be on the cards for Rihanna

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday April 21, 2016 – There’s a strong hint that Barbadian superstar Rihanna could be in line for an honorary degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said he would be disappointed in the university and his colleagues if they did not do the right thing within a short time, in response to a question about conferring the international recording artist with the honour.

He was speaking last night at UWI’s Cave Hill Campus, at the official launch of a book on Rihanna, published last year.

The star’s meteoritic rise is examined in the publication, Rihanna: Barbados World-Gurl in Global Popular Culture. At least eight Caribbean and United States-based scholars collaborated on the book that explores the impact the Good Girl Gone Bad and Diamonds star has had on gender and sexuality, class, culture, race and economy.

world gurl rihanna“The contributors have widely ranging and, in some cases, divergent views on artistic freedom, the degree to which Rihanna can be read as a radical feminist and the impact of her emergence on the Barbadian cultural landscape,” said co-editor Dr. Heather Russell of the Florida International University.

“Despite this diversity of perspectives, our aim was to situate Rihanna as both artist and symbol in historical, social, political, economic and social context, illuminating what we hoped would be a critically relevant exchange.”

She said Rihanna’s 2007 proclamation of her liberation of a Good Girl Gone Bad was an intentional act to challenge the deep-rooted idea that females are either good girls or bad girl, Jezebels or Madonnas.

Sir Hilary, who knew Rihanna as a youngster, said the volume is part of a collective act of responsibility within the university to help shape discussions that are relevant to today’s society.

“We tried not to have a random, kitchen sink approach but a kind of architecture that made some sort of coherence,” said Sir Hilary, himself one of the contributors.

“UWI academics, especially our younger intellectuals, ought to leave no conversation at peace. We have a responsibility and a duty to interrogate all that we create and produce, all that is said about us, all that we say. This is an example of some of the finest writing of young, Barbadian, Caribbean thinkers on a global phenomenon which is ongoing and therefore there ought to be a second volume.”

The book was published by UWI Press with contributing writers including Mike Alleyne, Curwen Best, Esther Jones, and Donna Aza Weir-Soley.

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