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In Bad Practice (Book Works), Derica Shields’s recently completed book project, an unrealised lecture series traces the period between the 1807 abolition of the slave trade and the 1833 abolition of slavery, when debates in Parliament blamed enslaved people’s practice of herbal abortion for the declining plantation population. These maligned practices undermined the “breeding” policies that abolitionists and planters agreed should be implemented on West Indian plantations.

Moving on and off the page, Shields presents a broken lecture drawing on Sylvia Wynter’s scholarship on Jonkonnu and the Plot, to reconsider enslaved people’s herbal practices.

Where the Ground Gives Way attempts a multidirectional conversation that diffuses authorship and proposes the 'bad practices' of the enslaved as an inheritance beyond property and consanguinity.

The lecture will take place in the Nash Lecture Theatre, followed by a drinks reception in the Council Room.

About the Sylvia Wynter Lecture Series:

This special annual lecture celebrates King’s alumna the Honourable Sylvia Wynter, OJ (Order of Jamaica), the novelist, playwright and theorist of the colonial and postcolonial condition. Each year the event features an artist or scholar whose work takes up Wynter’s challenge to rethink the ‘genres of the human’. Created and sponsored by the English Department, with support from Global Cultures Institute and the Arts and Humanities faculty.

Speaker's Bio

​​Derica Shields is a writer and editor from South London. She works across disciplines with a particular focus on Black diasporic cultures.

Her criticism and essays have appeared in Art Review, Frieze, Flash Art, Girls Like Us, and in catalogue and gallery publications. She is a former contributing editor at the New Inquiry and LIES journal, and former Features Editor at Rookie. Derica has programmed film screenings and taught classes internationally. She has also given talks, lectures and workshops at Light Work, the New School, and BAM, New York; the ICA, Frieze Art Fair, South London Gallery and Somerset House, London; and RCMC and Metro54 in Amsterdam.

For the past several years, Derica has experimented with schematic writing and orality through commissions from Cell Project Space (2019), Wysing Art Centre (2019) and Turf Projects (2021). Her oral history project A Heavy Nonpresence (Triple Canopy, 2021) brings together seven Black Londoners’ accounts of the British welfare state. Derica recently concluded work on Bad Practice, an artists book that considers the potentials of Black failure, commissioned by Hannah Black and coming in 2023 from Book Works. She is a 2022–2023 resident at Jan van Eyck Academie.

Event details

Nash Lecture Theatre
Strand Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS