MA Research Paper

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Dr. Anton Allahar

Abstract

In 1959, ‘blacks’ in Bermuda boycotted the island’s movie theatres and held nightly protests over segregated seating practices. By all accounts the 1959 Theatre Boycott was one of the most significant episodes of contentious politics in contemporary Bermuda, challenging social norms that had been in existence for 350 years. While the trajectory and outcomes of ‘black’ Bermudians’ transgressive social protests could not have been predicted, this analysis uses racism, oligarchy and contentious politics as conceptual tools to illuminate the social mechanisms and processes that eventually led to the end of formal racial segregation in Bermuda after less than three weeks of limited and non-violent collective action. Content analyses of the documentary, When Voices Rise, and Bermuda’s two main newspapers in 1959 provide insight into the public discourse that informed Bermuda’s desegregation experience, and highlight the role of racist ideology, power and political contention in social inequality and social change.


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