The Best Books On Jamaica During The Period Of Slavery

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution
By Trevor Burnard

The Books I Picked & Why

Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

By Vincent Brown

Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

Why this book?

This book is based on impeccable empirical research, is beautifully and elegantly written, and places an event that should be better known as both a major slave revolt and a significant event in the Seven Years War into a Jamaican and global context.


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Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain's Atlantic Empire

By Christine Walker

Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain's Atlantic Empire

Why this book?

We tend to think of social relationships in societies like early eighteenth-century Jamaica in male terms – masters and enslaved men. Jamaica was a very masculine place with a distinct masculine culture based around sexual access to women and a vibrant economy. But white women were also there and tended to flourish – working with the slave system rather than against it. This book is testimony to gender history and to the diversity of experiences in colonial Jamaica.


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Architecture and Empire in Jamaica

By Louis P. Nelson

Architecture and Empire in Jamaica

Why this book?

Beautifully illustrated and persuasively argued, this survey of a variety of architectural forms in the eighteenth century, from merchant houses to enslaved yards to great houses shows how studying the built environment of early Jamaica gives insight into a society both rich and highly conflicted.


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Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing, and Slavery in Jamaica

By Sasha Turner

Contested Bodies: Pregnancy, Childrearing, and Slavery in Jamaica

Why this book?

Slavery was brutal in eighteenth-century Jamaica, mostly due to how hard enslaved people were worked as sugar workers. That hard work had massive consequences for enslaved women’s fertility. Early abolitionists used the inability of enslaved populations to naturally reproduce as an indictment of the plantation system. Planters, belatedly, tried to institute policies that helped pregnant women but their desire for profit usually overwhelmed their concern for maternal comfort. It meant that enslaved women themselves took the lead in forcing planters and officials to do something to make pregnancy endurable and infant mortality less extreme than before abolitionism began.


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Witnessing Slavery: Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition

By Sarah Thomas

Witnessing Slavery: Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition

Why this book?

In this lavishly illustrated book, primarily about art in Jamaica but with nods to New South Wales and Britain, Sarah Thomas connects the plantation and urban world of Jamaica to the discipline of art history, giving careful analyses of painters like James Hakewill who painted scenes of plantation life designed to normalise and make more Arcadian a landscape that in fact was marked more by violence than by contentment. It speaks vividly to the silences that surround slavery on the island.


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