Rihanna: Barbados World Gurl in Global Popular Culture

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Women on 2016-03-20 20:08Z by Steven

Rihanna: Barbados World Gurl in Global Popular Culture

University of the West Indies Press
220 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-976-640-502-1

Edited by:

Hilary McD. Beckles, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

Heather D. Russell, Associate Professor of English
Florida International University, Miami, Florida

Rihanna is arguably the most commercially successful Caribbean artist in history. She is Barbadian and has been unwavering in publicly articulating her national and regional belonging. Still, there have been varied responses to Rihanna’s ascendancy, among both Barbadians and the wider Caribbean community. The responses reveal as much about our own national and regional anxieties as they do about the artist herself. The boundary-transgressing, cultural icon Rihanna is subject to anxieties about her body language and latitude from her global audiences as well; however, the essays in this collection purposely seek to de-centre the dominance of the Euro-American gaze, focusing instead on considerations of the Caribbean artist and her oeuvre from a Caribbean postcolonial corpus of academic inquiry.

This collection brings together US- and Caribbean-based scholars to discuss issues of class, gender, sexuality, race, culture and economy. Using the concept of diasporic citizenship as a theoretical frame, the authors intervene in current questions of national and transnational circuits of exchange as they pertain to the commoditization and movement of culture, knowledge, values and identity. The contributors approach the subjects of Rihanna, globalization, gender and sexuality, commerce, transnationalism, Caribbean regionalism, and Barbadian national identity and development from different disciplinary and at times radically divergent perspectives. At the same time, they collectively work through the limitations, possibilities and promise of our best Caribbean imaginings.


  • Selected Discography and Awards
  • CHAPTER 1 Westbury Writes Back: Rihanna Reclaimed HILARY McD. BECKLES
  • CHAPTER 2 Rihanna as Global Icon and Caribbean Threshold Figure DON D. MARSHALL
  • CHAPTER 3 International Identity: Rihanna and the Barbados Music Industry MIKE ALLEYNE
  • CHAPTER 4 “What’s My Name?” Reading Rihanna’s Autobiographical Acts ESTHER L. JONES
  • CHAPTER 5 She Dances on the Holodeck CURWEN BEST
  • CHAPTER 6 From “F Love” to “He Is the One”? Rihanna, Chris Brown and the Danger of Traumatic Bonding DONNA AZA WEIR-SOLEY
  • CHAPTER 7 Rihanna and Bajan Respectability AARON KAMUGISHA
  • CHAPTER 8 Rihanna: Diaspora Citizen, Bajan Daughter, Global Superstar HEATHER D. RUSSELL
  • Contributors
  • Acknowledgements
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A Classic Study of the History of Caribbean Women

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Women on 2012-05-03 03:26Z by Steven

A Classic Study of the History of Caribbean Women

H-Caribbean Reviews, H-Net Reviews
December 2008

Barbara Bush

Lucille Mathurin Mair. A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655-1844. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2006. 496 pp. $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-976-640-166-5; (paper), ISBN 978-976-640-178-8.

I first encountered Lucille Mathurin Mair’s work during the 1970s when I read her seminal article, “The Arrivals of Black Women,” published in Jamaica Journal in 1975. Her work, which influenced me and a number of other pioneering historians in the field, was seminal in developing research in gender and slavery. Mair’s research, however, went beyond Jamaican slave women of African origin; it also embraced white and mulatto, or “brown,” women, slave and free. Her doctoral thesis, supervised by Elsa Goveia, the first woman professor of history at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, was awarded in 1974. Mair (née Waldrond) went on to become a well-known Jamaican historian, author, teacher, activist, and diplomat, but her dissertation remained unpublished. Verene A. Shepherd and Hilary McD. Beckles, both professors of history at the University of West Indies who have made a significant contribution to gendered perspectives on Caribbean history, are thus to be commended for transforming this monumental study into a published monograph.

The book is divided into three main sections that map Mair’s original structure. Part 1 addresses the origins of Jamaican society and examines female arrivals from 1655 to 1770. Part 2 focuses on creole slave society, while the final part, “Postscript, 1834-1844,” explores the beginnings of a free society. Each section weaves together the lives of white, black, and mulatto women, and explores their relationships to each other as well as to white, black, and mulatto men. Shepherd and Beckles have skilfully and sensitively edited the original text, making the minimum of changes. Their introduction effectively contextualizes Mair’s study in relation to developments in the field of women’s, gender, and feminist history since the 1970s, and its impact on the postcolonial historiography of slave and post-slave societies…

…One of Mair’s most interesting contentions is that the “original creole matriarch may not have been black but brown” (p. 292). Free brown women, she argues, tended to live in families dominated by women and looked down on black women and brown men, whom they regarded as “helpless.” These matriarchies may reflect the particular location of mulatto women in slave societies. Brown women were the cultural conduits between black and white worlds, as the mistresses of white men and as “grog house” keepers. But, observes Mair, their position in Jamaican society was ambivalent. As the object of white male desire, they could prosper but they could never match the ideal of white womanhood and achieve respectability. Religion was the other end of the spectrum of approved means of brown upward mobility, but, argues Mair, before the abolition of slavery in 1838, there does not seem to have been the same development of philanthropy and sense of civic duty as was found among the Barbadian urban free colored population. With emancipation, however, there was a decline in concubinage, a reflection of the pervasive emphasis on “respectability” in post-slavery society that separated the “civilized” and aspiring mulattos and blacks from their “primitive” African past…

Read the entire review here.

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A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655–1844

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2012-05-01 21:29Z by Steven

A Historical Study of Women in Jamaica, 1655–1844

University of The West Indies Press
400 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-976-640-178-8


Lucille Mathurin Mair (1925-2009)

Edited by:

Hilary McD. Beckles, Principal
University of The West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

Verene A. Shepherd, University Director
Centre for Gender & Dev Std-RC: Centre Research/Teaching
University of The West Indies, Mona


  • List of Tables
  • Editors’ Introduction: Hilary McD. Beckles and Verene A. Shepherd
  • Author’s Preface
  • Part 1: The Female Arrivants, 1655-1770
    • Chapter 1: The Arrivals ofWhite Women
    • Chapter 2: The Arrivals of Black Women
    • Chapter 3: The Growth of the Mulatto Group
  • Part 2: Creole Slave Society, 1770-1834
    • Chapter 4: The White Woman in Jamaican Slave Society
    • Chapter 5: The White Woman: Legal Status, Family, Philanthropy and Gender Constraints
    • Chapter 6: The Black Woman: Demographic Profile, Occupation and Violent Abuse
    • Chapter 7: The Black Woman: Agency, Identity and Voice
    • Chapter 8: The Mulatto Woman in Jamaican Slave Society
  • Part 3: Postscript, 1834-1844
    • Chapter 9: The Beginnings of a Free Society, 1834-1844
    • Afterword: Recollections into a Journey of a Rebel Past
    • Appendix: Population: St James Parish
  • Notes
  • Author’s Bibliography
  • Editors’ Selected Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2010-01-21 21:19Z by Steven

The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story

The American Historical Review
Volume 108, Number 1 (February 2003)
pages 84-118

Martha Hodes, Professor of History
New York University

There are many ways to expose the mercurial nature of racial classification. Scholars of U.S. history might note, for example, that the category of “mulatto” first appeared in the federal census of 1850 and then disappeared in 1930, or they might discover that immigrants who had not thought of themselves as “black” at home in the Caribbean found themselves classified as such upon passage to the United States. Such episodes serve to unmask the instability of racial systems, yet simply marshaling evidence to prove taxonomies fickle tells only a partial story. In an effort to tell a fuller story about the workings of “race”—by which I mean principally the endeavors of racial categorization and stratification—I focus here on historical actors who crossed geographical boundaries and lived their lives within different racial systems. A vision that accounts for the experiences of sojourners and migrants illuminates the ways in which racial classification shifts across borders and thus deepens arguments about racial construction and malleability.

At the same time, however, the principal argument of this essay moves in a different direction. We tend to think of the fluid and the mutable as less powerful than the rigid and the immutable, thereby equating the exposure of unstable racial categories with an assault on the very construct of race itself. In a pioneering essay in which Barbara J. Fields took a historical analysis of the concept of race as her starting point, she contended that ideologies of race are continually created and verified in daily life. More recently, Ann Laura Stoler has challenged the assumption that an understanding of racial instability can serve to undermine racism, and Thomas C. Holt has called attention to scholars’ “general failure to probe beyond the mantra of social constructedness, to ask what that really might mean in shaping lived experience.” Hilary McD. Beckles affirms that “the analysis of ‘real experience’ and the theorising of ‘constructed representation’ constitute part of the same intellectual project.” Drawing together these theoretical strands, I argue that the scrutiny of day-to-day lives demonstrates not only the mutability of race but also, and with equal force, the abiding power of race in local settings. Neither malleability nor instability, then, necessarily diminishes the potency of race to circumscribe people’s daily lives…

Read the entire article here or here.

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