New Book: “Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean”

I’m looking forward to getting a chance to read this—scholarship which listens out for the voices from the archives of the enslaved is difficult but vital work.

Repeating Islands

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Randy M. Browne’s Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean was published in July 2017 by University of Pennsylvania Press.

Diana Paton (Edinburgh University) explains that “Randy M. Browne’s important study of the late slavery period in Berbice uses a rich, but surprisingly underused, set of sources—reports of the fiscals and protectors of slaves—to take a fresh approach to the study of Caribbean slave societies. Browne is attentive to the multiple dynamics of power and the complexity of the situation of many enslaved people.”

Vincent Brown (author of The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery) writes: “Drawing upon a remarkable archive of protests by the enslaved, Randy M. Browne thoroughly reimagines the politics of slavery. Listening intently to his sources, he carefully teases out the slaves’ multifaceted struggle for survival in some of the most brutal conditions ever known. This illuminates the elemental nature of…

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Black History Month UK: Links

As Black History Month kicked off in the UK this week, my twitter feed has featured some fascinating research and writing about Britain’s black history. I’ll update this page as the month progresses with links to articles, historians, writers etc which contribute to getting Britain’s black history out in the public domain.

 

Melissa Bennett, UK-based historian of the Caribbean and photography – check out her Instagram blog

English Heritage has uncovered the identities of 2,500 Afro-Caribbean prisoners of war kept at Portchester Castle in England. This website tells the story of the prisoners’ transportation and life at Portchester.

Fay Young’s article on Sceptical Scot about Black History Month in Scotland

Black History Month in the UK

100 Great Black Britons relaunches for 2017

 

Review: Marisa Fuentes, DISPOSSESSED LIVES

Professor Park's Blog

Sometimes the best thing a book can do is make you feel guilty. That is certainly the case with the book I’m gisting today.

There were more enslaved women in the colonial port town of Bridgetown, found on the western edge of Barbados, than any other demographic group. So why do they receive such little attention? Marisa J. Fuentes, in her provocative book Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (UPenn Press, 2016), argues that the traditional archive was constructed in such a way to inflict perpetual violence upon women. Until that narrative is disrupted, historians continue to partake in this original sin. Fuentes’s book is, she explains, an attempt at “redress” (12). Dispossessed Lives follows the stories of a handful of women in the eighteenth century through the lens of documents that only peripherally mention them: a runaway named Jane, a mulatto brothel, an enslaved woman who was…

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“(In)forming Revolution Series: Information Networks in the Age of Revolutions” – Introduction

Throughout September, the Age of Revolutions blog is publishing a series of blogposts in the “(In)forming Revolution Series: Information Networks in the Age of Revolutions.”  Many of the posts will include Caribbean history and connections.

Age of Revolutions

By Bryan A. Banks

“We have entered the information age, and the future, it seems, will be determined by the media. In fact, some would claim that the modes of communication have replaced the modes of production as the driving force of the modern world. I would like to dispute that view. Whatever its value as prophecy, it will not work as history, because it conveys a specious sense of a break with the past. I would argue that every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that communication systems have always shaped events.”

Robert Darnton, Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Chicago, January 5, 2000.

Robert Darnton, Emeritus Harvard University librarian and renowned historian of the French Enlightenment, delivered a lecture on the history of communication before a large crowd at the American Historical Association. Only…

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Exploring the literary geographies of the Haitian Revolution: print & online

The latest edition of SX Salon contains a detailed and thoughtful review by Erin Zavitz of Dr Marlene Daut’s 2015 book Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865SX Salon is a literary platform which reviews and engages with Caribbean literature, broadly defined, and is part of the larger SX project.

Click here to read the review.

I’m always on the lookout for freely available digital resources so was excited to see links within Zavitz’s review to two digital projects connected with Tropics of Haiti. Both are brilliant examples of different ways of presenting information—not to mention demonstrating Daut’s generosity as a scholar in sharing her work.

The first online project is Fictions of the Haitian Revolution, in which Daut lists the hundreds of texts she uncovered whilst researching her book. The site lists works in French, English, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and German.  Daut updates the site regularly with news about Tropics of Haiti, the Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, and her archival findings.

The second resource is an online story map of the Revolution, The Haitian Atlantic: A Literary Geography.  The site traces some of the ways that Atlantic world writers attempted to engage with the history, language, and legacy of the Haitian Revolution in the long nineteenth century. Take a look – this is a beautiful site.

 

Slavery, Freedom and the Jamaican Landscape | British Library – Picturing Places

The link below will take you to an article written by Miles Ogborn, Professor of Geography at Queen Mary University of London.

Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King’s Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates this community of escaped slaves and their attempts to win back independence.

Seeking PhD Students: ‘Caribbean literary heritage’ project

Repeating Islands

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A new research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust on Caribbean literary heritage is looking for collaborations with authors, researchers and archivists.

The Anglophone Caribbean’s reputation for outstanding creative writers has established itself globally since the late twentieth century, most prominently with St Lucian Derek Walcott’s Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul’s just short of a decade later, in 2001. More recently still, a cluster of major international prizes has confirmed the extraordinary standing of Caribbean-born writers on the world literary stage. The prestigious Forward Prize for Poetry was awarded to Jamaican Kei Miller in 2014, Jamaican-born Claudia Rankine in 2015 and Trinidadian Vahni Capildeo in 2016. In 2015 a Caribbean writer – Jamaican Marlon James – also won the coveted Man Booker Prize. Such accolades speak of individual talents but they also intimate something of a regional context for literary innovation and excellence. Despite…

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Hilary McD. Beckles: the legacy of slavery in Barbados

Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, has published an excerpt from the preface to Professor Beckles’s most recent book: The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s “Barbarity Time” in Barbados, 1636—1876.  In the book, Beckles explores the brutal course of Barbados’s history, and argues that the distinct social character and cultural identity of modern Barbados are rooted in its past as the birthplace of British slave society.

This is a link to the blogpost on Black Perspectives: On Barbados, the First Black Slave Society

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Carceral Archipelago: Mazaruni Prison, Guyana, by Dr Clare Anderson

Professor Clare Anderson is the director of a European Research Council funded project: “The Carceral Archipelago.” The project analyses the relationships and circulations between and across convict transportation, penal colonies and labour, migration, coercion and confinement, across a wide geographical area, and a chronology which stretches from 1415 to 1960. Dr Anderson recently travelled to Guyana to follow up on her research on the history of HM Penal Settlement Mazaruni. This settlement was established in British Guiana in 1842, remained open until 1930-9 when it closed briefly, reopened in 1940, and changed its name to Mazaruni Prison in 1950. Since Guyana’s independence in 1966 it has remained in use as a jail.

Dr Anderson’s interest in Mazaruni was piqued by stories of French convicts escaping into British jurisdictions in the Caribbean.  Click this link to read her recent blogpost about her trip to Guyana.

For more on the Carceral Archipelago – visit the project’s homepage here. Dr Anderson can be found on twitter here