Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique (Review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2013-03-10 02:28Z by Steven

Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique (Review)

French History
Volume 27, Issue 1 (2013)
pages 135-137
DOI: 10.1093/fh/crs158

Emily Musil Church, Assistant Professor of History
Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania

Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique. By Rebecca Hartkopf Schloss. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2009. 312 pp. ISBN: 978 0 8122 4172 3.

Rebecca Hartkopf Scholss’ investigation of the end of slavery in the French Caribbean island of Martinique is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on the history of the Francophone Black Atlantic world. Schloss’ book builds on existing works by exploring the complex dynamics that existed amidst and between the various racial and economic groups in Martinique, as well as between the metropole and colony. The author’s writing style makes a long, complicated colonial history with a complex cast of characters both engaging and accessible. She uses a wide variety of sources—ranging from court proceedings to diaries to demographic statistics—to reconstruct how Martinique, and the French empire more broadly, defined and redefined racial categories and their meanings. Although she uses class and racial categories to describe the social framework, Schloss is careful to reinforce that the categories she describes—such elite Creoles, poor whites, free mixed-race persons, enslaved Africans, and so on—were fluid designations and not united, cohesive groups. The…

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