Library


Historiography of The British West Indies and Caribbean


Lectures on Colonization and Colonies Delivered before the University of Oxford in 1839, 1840, and 1841
by Herman Merivale
London, 1861

Herman Merivale was one of the first historians to attempt to explain why the institution of slavery took such a hold in the Caribbean and the Americas. His theory revolved around the ratio of labour to land and the need for a steady replacement for work that would not be willingly undertaken at a profitable level and thus the need for coercion. His theory was very influential but has since been augmented by other factors and considerations.

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The Development of the British West Indies, 1700–1763
by Frank Pitman
New Haven, 1917

Frank Pitman was an American scholar who tracked the economic performance and social make-up of the Caribbean up until the end of the Seven Years War and examined its ties to the 13 colonies.

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The Fall of the Planter Class in the British Caribbean, 1763–1833: A Study in Social and Economic History
by Lowell Ragatz
New York, 1928

Lowell Ragatz was interested in the role of the British aristocracy and how they managed decline and sought to guard their interests against the British parliament and rising religious disquiet at the dependency on slave labour.

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British Slave Emancipation, 1838 - 1849
by William Law Mathieson
London, 1932

William Law Mathieson cocentrated on the impact that emancipation had on the British West Indies in the mid-nineteenth century and how successful, or unsuccessful, the economies were at adapting to the changed economic model and opportunities.

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War and Trade in the West Indies, 1763 - 1793
by Richard Pares
Oxford, 1936

Pares provided evidence that the Caribbean and West Indies' plantation economies were failing to adapt to the changing economic, social and religious realities and so were in danger of being sidelined and seeing other parts of the British Empire usurp their hitherto preeminent position.

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Emancipation and Apprenticeship in the British West Indies
by W. L. Burn
London, 1937

Burn's book also examines the way that the British economies of the West Indies attempted to reorganise themselves in the wake of the emancipation of the slaves.

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Capitalism and Slavery
by Eric Williams
London, 1944

Eric Williams was an economic historian (who later became PM of Trinidad) who believed that the First Empire was both created and eventually overthrown by primarily economic forces. For example, he believed that the role of abolitionists was grossly overblown and that slavery was eventually allowed to lapse due to changes in economic conditions. These were brought about due to the fallout from the American Revolution - as American independence destroyed the mercantilist scheme of triangular trading that slavery had depended upon.

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The Free Port System in the British West Indies: A Study in Commercial Policy, 1766–1822
by Frances Armytage
London, 1953

Frances Armytage looked at the importance of Trade in the era of the American Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars and its Continental system and the role of the navigation acts.

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History of the British West Indies
by Sir Alan Burns
London, 1954 & 1965

Sir Alan Burns originally wrote his history in the early 1950s as Federation was being attempted. He did revise it in 1965 as independence became a reality for more and more of the British West Indies. In many ways, Sir Alan Burns's book was the last of the old style imperial narratives rather than the new pan-Caribbean histories that was to become more common in the latter half of the twentieth century.

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Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical Colony, 1830–1865
by Philip D. Curtin
Cambridge, Mass., 1955

Curtin was one of the first historians to have examined the post-slavery social and demographic history of a Caribbean society and consider how well it adapted to the new reality.

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A Study on the Historiography of the British West Indies to the End of the Nineteenth Century
by Elsa V. Goveia
Mexico, 1956

Goveia wrote one of the earliest analytical historographies of the West Indies up until 1900 from University College of West Indies in Jamaica. She focussed on the intrepretation of race and role of racism in defining the writings of earlier historians contending with the subject.

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A Short History of the West Indies
by John Parry and Philip Sherlock
London, 1956, 1963, 1971 & 1987

Although a regional history of the Caribbean, the authors did make it clear that they would be concentrating on the history of the British West Indies as distinct from those Caribbean islands that experienced different forms of imperial rule.

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Free Jamaica, 1838–1865: An Economic History
by Douglas Hall,
New Haven, 1959

Douglas Hall focussed on the economic transition of Jamaica from the slave economy to a Laissez Faire one within the British Empire.

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The Making of the West Indies
by F. R. Augier, S. C. Gordon, D. G. Hall, and M. Reckord
London, 1960

The Making of the West Indies was an early attempt by the University College of the West Indies to produce a regional history with a British focus designed primarily for students studying for Oxford and Cambridge examination boards.

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The Origins of the Jamaican Internal Marketing System
by Sidney W.Mintz and Douglas Hall,
New Haven, 1960

This book examined the pro-active role of Jamaicans in making the most of the land allocated to them for the cultivation of their own crops despite still being slaves who owed labour to their owners.

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Beyond a Boundary
by Cyril Lionel Robert James
London, 1963

Cyril Lionel Robert James examined the role of the sport of cricket, which was one of the few imperial institutions and passions that cut across the West Indies as a whole and provided both a unifying force and a form of resistance to the metropole.

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Early West Indian Government: Showing The Progress Of Government In Barbados, Jamaica, And The Leeward Islands, 1600-1783
by Frederick G. Spurdle
Palmerston North, New Zealand, 1964

Spurdle updated the constitutional look at British Imperial government in the British West Indies by tracking how it changed and developed in the 17th and 18th centuries up until the end of the First British Empire and the ending of the American Revolutionary Wars.

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The West Indies and the Development of Colonial Government, 1801–1834
by D. J. Murray
(Oxford, 1965

Murray examined how the British adapted colonial government and administration in the Caribbean during the first third of the Nineteenth Century in response to the Napoleonic challenges and the attempts at limiting and ultimately abolishing slavery.

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Slave Society in the British Leeward Islands at the End of the Eighteenth Century
by Elsa V. Goveia
New Haven, 1965

Goveia wrote an in-depth analysis of the slave society model highlighting the role and importance of 'force' in maintaining the social and economic order of the islands she examined.

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British Historians and the West Indies
by Eric Williams
London , 1966

Eric Williams was a Trinidadian historian who later became the island's first prime minister. His book saw the history of Caribbean as a "battleground on which imperialist politics struggle against nationalist politics". He felt that history was a weapon which local Caribbean historians had to fight to be heard in order to prevent a return of neo-imperial institutions.

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The Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, Development, and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica
by Orlando Patterson
London , 1967

Orlando Patterson concentrated on the negative role and impact of the institution of slavery on the island of Jamaica and how it corrupted the moral fibre of the society and infiltrated and seeped into the daily life of all the social classes from top to bottom.

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Constitutional Change in the British West Indies, 1880–1903
by H. A. Will
Oxford, 1970

Will looked at the period at the end of the nineteenth century when the British were consolidating and reorganising their empire to deal with the administrative realities of governing such a large empire in a relatively isolationist period of history.

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>The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770–1820
by Kamau (Edward) Brathwaite
Oxford, 1971

Brathwaite came up with a more positive view on the history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century of Jamaica by highlighting the creole society that was created in reaction to the institution of slavery and as a means of overcoming, resisting and dealing with its harsher aspects. He was fascinated by the new kind of society that was being created from the bottom up.

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Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies 1624 - 1713
by Richard S. Dunn
Chapel Hill, NC, 1972

Richard Dunn has examines the role of slavery in the New World but came to the conclusion that the Caribbean Island economy and treatment of slaves was vastly different from that found on the mainland of North America. He conducted a comparative study that showed that the death rates on West Indian plantations amongst slaves vastly exceeded birth rates until well into the nineteenth century. Whereas plantations in Virginia and Maryland achieved a stabilising framework far earlier.

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Sugar and Slavery: An Economic History of the British West Indies, 1623–1775
by Richard S. Sheridan
Baltimore, 1974

Richard S. Sheridan examined the dependence the British West Indies created for itself in being tied to one of the first plantation crops: sugar.

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British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment, 1830–1865
by William A. Green
London, 1976

William Green examined how successfully the Caribbean economy transitioned to a wage economy and compared the success of British colonies with those who continued using slavery for longer. He went on to see the impact of the American Civil War on the economies of the West Indies.

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The Formation of a Colonial Society: Belize, from Conquest to Crown Colony
by O. Nigel Bolland
Baltimore, 1977

The case of Belize (British Honduras) was very much an exception with it not being an island and located on the mainland of Central America and not having been part of the Plantation and slavery system. Bolland considered to what extent the surrounding cultural expectations of the imperial Caribbean impacted on what was actually one of the oldest colonies in the region.

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Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies
by Michael Craton
Ithaca, NY, 1982

Craton charted the relative successes and failures in resisting the British institution of slavery throughout the Caribbean and examined the many forms that resistance could actually take.

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Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834
B. W. Higman
Baltimore, 1984

Higman examined the slave societies of the British West Indies during the crucial transition period from when the Slave Trade was banned until the institution of Slavery itself was wound up in 1834.

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Black Rebellion in Barbados: The Struggle Against Slavery, 1627–1838
Hilary Beckles
Bridgetown, 1984

Hilary Beckles examined the myriad ways that the slave population resisted and fought back against the institution of slavery on the island of Barbados for over two centuries.

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The Caribbean Slave: A Biological History
Kenneth F. Kiple
Cambridge, 1984

Kenneth F. Kiple analysed the demographic make up of slaves arriving in the Caribbean and considered the role the different points of origin and the differing cultures may have played in forging the experiences of slaves in the Caribbean.

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Merchants and Jews: The Struggle for British West Indian Commerce, 1650–1750
Stephen Alexander Fortune
Gainsville, 1984

Stephen Alexander Fortune examined the role played by the Jewish community in facilitating trading links around the Empire in the century after Oliver Cromwell welcomed the Jewish community back into the economic life of England and its expanding empire.

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Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master–Slave Relations in Antigua, With Implications for Colonial British America
David Barry Gaspar
Baltimore, 1985

David Barry Gaspar recounted the extent of resistance to slavery on the island of Antigua and how responses to resistance were implemented throughout the Caribbean and even into the slave societies of North America.

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Panama Money in Barbados, 1900–1920
Bonham C. Richardson,
Knoxville, Tenn., 1985

Richardson considered the impact of the building and opening of the Panama canal on the Caribbean economy of Barbados. It addressed issues such as migration, tourism and flows of money.

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Doctors and Slaves: A Medical and Demographic History of Slavery in the British West Indies, 1680–1834
by Richard B. Sheridan
Cambridge, 1985

Richard Sheridan examined the journals and notes of doctors who were employed to keep the workforce going as profitably as possible within a brutal system. He is also able to consider the medical implications of the institution of slavery and why certain groups survived and others perished.

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The Black Saturnalia: Conflict and its Ritual Expression on British West Indian Slave Plantations
Robert Dirks
Gainsville, 1987

Robert Dirks examined the role of resistance and religion for slaves in dealing with the instituion of slavery.

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Race, Power and Social Segmentation in Colonial Society: Guyana after Slavery
Brian L. Moore,
New York, 1987

Moore looked at the biggest Caribbean imperial possession and one that was located on the continent of South America. He considered how well it adapted to the new realities of the post-slavery economy.

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British West Indian Slavery, 1750–1834: The Process of Amelioration
by J. R. Ward
Oxford, 1988

Ward describes the tortuous political route that eventually culminated in the emancipation of slaves in 1834 and how the process impacted upon the economic and social structures of West Indian societies.

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The British West Indies During the American Revolution
by Selwyn H. H. Carrington
Dordrecht, 1988

Carrington concentrated on the transformative effect of the American Revolution on the economic prosperity of the British West Indies and how they had to deal with the onslaught from French and Spanish designs during this period also.

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A History of West Indies Cricket
by Michael Manley
London, 1988

Michael Manley actually became the prime minister of Jamaica twice, so the fact that he wrote a book on cricket in the West Indies is a testament to the importance of the subject to the West Indies as a whole in helping forge an identity for itself both within the Empire and then after Independence.

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Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People
by Michael Craton and Gail Saunders
Athens, Ga., 1992

This book considered the impact of slavery on an island that did not much utilise the plantation system and so did not see the worst ravages of slavery. It considers how this made for a different experience to the other Caribbean islands.

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The Economy and Material Culture of Slaves: Goods and Chattels on the Sugar Plantations of Jamaica and Louisiana
by Roderick A McDonald
Baton Rouge, 1993

McDonald examines the life and existence that slaves were able to make for themselves within the confines of the slavery system. He was particularly interested in the material goods that they either grew, made or traded.

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To Hell with Paradise: A History of the Jamaican Tourist Industry
by Frank Fonda Taylor
Pittsburgh, Pa., 1993

Frank Taylor was one of the first historians to chart the importance and impact of tourism in the region. He believed that its (perceived) transformation to an island idyll began in 1891 but that its development only seemed to return the island back to its pre-slavery divisions - based on wealth and class. Nevertheless, its importance to a post-plantation economy is manifest.

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Maroon Heritage: Archaeological, Ethnographic and Historical Perspectives
Ed by Kofi Agorsah
Mona, Jamaica, 1994

This book looks at the lives that runaway slaves were able to carve out for themselves in the mountains and forests of the Caribbean.

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Liberation Cricket
Ed by Hilary McD. Beckles and Brian Stoddart
Kingston, 1995

Another examination of the role played by Cricket in binding the disparate islands together in a common endeavour and how race and class was eventually brought into the fold of what had hiterto been regarded as an aristocratic sport.

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Caribbean freedom: economy and society from emancipation to the present
Ed by Beckles, H. and V. Shepherd
London, 1996

This collection of articles charts themes along the lines of the slow disintegration of the slave system which was not completed until 1886; the attempts by resistant social groups and imperial agencies to accept and adjust to freedom; and the maturing of nationalist consciousness in terms of constitutional and cultural independence.

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The Colonial Caribbean in Transition: essays on postemancipation social and cultural history
B. Brereton
Gainsville, 1999

The essays in this book examine the social evolution of the colonial Caribbean in the period between the end of slavery and the middle of the twentieth century with a focus on social and ethnic groups, classes, men and women, and their interrelations, and on the development of cultural and intellectual traditions,

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The Caribbean: A History of the Region and Its Peoples.
Ed by Palmie, S. and F. A. Scarano
London, 2011

This book looks at the region as a whole, but examines the various phases of contact and dominance within the region, be it the Spanish, British or American. It takes the story into the area of developing nationalism, independence and beyond.

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The Caribbean
by Heuman, G
London, 2013

This book gives an updated overview of the region as a whole and how the past helped create and shape the present day societies.

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