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Seminar: Post-emancipation unrest

As we have seen, resistance was a characteristic feature of Caribbean slavery. Yet, even emancipation did not radically change the situation. As Nigel Bolland puts it: 'While the former masters sought new forms of coercion, the former slaves sought new forms of freedom. The change in legal status changed the terms of, but did not abolish, their struggle' (Bolland, 1981, pp. 107-8).

Seminar questions

  • What were the similarities and differences between resistance to the status quo before and after emancipation? Answer with reference to specific Caribbean examples.
  • What were the causes of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica in 1865?
  • How did the authorities react to the protests?

Required reading

Aguier, Roy, ‘Before and After 1865’ in Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd (eds), Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present: A Student Reader (London, 1993), pp. 170-180.

Craton, Michael, ‘Continuity not Change: The Incidence of Unrest among Ex-slaves in the British West Indies, 1838-1876’ in Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd (eds), Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present: A Student Reader (London, 1993), pp. 192-206.

Heuman, Gad, The Killing Time: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (London, 1994), Preface and Chapter 3.

Moore, Brian L. and Michele A. Johnson, Neither Led nor Driven: Contesting British Cultural Imperialism in Jamaica, 1865-1920 (University of the West Indies Press, 2004), pp. 1-13.

Further reading

Belle, George, ‘The Abortive Revolution of 1876 in Barbados’ in Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd (eds), Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present: A Student Reader (London, 1993), pp. 181-191.

Hall, C., Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830-1867 (Oxford, 2002).

Heuman, Gad, The Caribbean (London, 2006), chapter 11.

Heuman, Gad and David V. Trotman (eds), Contesting Freedom: Control and Resistance in the Post-Emancipation Caribbean (Oxford: 2005).

Howell, Philip and David Lambert, 'Sir John Pope Hennessy and colonial government: Humanitarianism and the translation of slavery in the imperial network' in David Lambert and Philip Howell (eds), Colonial Lives across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 228-256.

Lambert, David and Philip Howell, 'John Pope Hennessy and the translation of “slavery” between late nineteenth-century Barbados and Hong Kong' History Workshop Journal 55 (2003), pp. 1-24.

Levy, Claude, Emancipation, Sugar and Federalism: Barbados and the West Indies, 1833-1876 (Gainesville, 1980)

Mintz, Sidney W., Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations (London, 2010), pp. 44-87.

Moore, Brian L. and Michele A. Johnson, Neither Led nor Driven: Contesting British Cultural Imperialism in Jamaica, 1865-1920 (University of the West Indies Press, 2004).

Semmel, Bernard, The Governor Eyre Controversy (London, 1962).