A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, by Richard Dunn

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2016-01-25 17:47Z by Steven

A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, by Richard Dunn

The English Historical Review
Volume 130, Issue 547, December 2015
pages 1575-1577
DOI: 10.1093/ehr/cev299

Trevor Burnard, Professor of History
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, by Richard Dunn (Cambridge, MA: Harvard U.P., 2014; pp. 540. £29.95).

When Richard Dunn wrote a preliminary essay, published in a major journal, comparing the lives of enslaved people working on a large sugar plantation called Mesopotamia in western Jamaica between 1762 and 1834 with the lives of slaves on a large tidewater grain-producing estate in Virginia between 1808 and 1865, he concluded that the experience of slaves in Virginia was better than that of slaves in Jamaica. To his chagrin, a local newspaper summarised his article as if the competition somehow validated Virginian slavery as being not that bad, considering how it was in Jamaica.

That was nearly forty years ago. Since then Dunn has moderated those early opinions so that he now has a much more nuanced view of slave life in the English-speaking Americas. As he says, with characteristic dry humour, taking forty years to write a book is ‘not a recommended modus operandi for historians’ (p. 1). The result, however, is a magnificent and deeply humane evocation of two deeply disturbing worlds of slavery, neither of which exceeded the other in dreadfulness, and in both of which man’s inhumanity to man is ever present. One great advantage of the length of time taken..

Read or purchase the review here.

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Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2011-11-04 21:36Z by Steven

Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Texas A&M University Press
168 pages
6 x 9, Illus.
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-60344-192-6

Edited by:

John D. Garrigus, Associate Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

Christopher Morris, Associate Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

With the recent election of the nation’s first African American president—an individual of blended Kenyan and American heritage who spent his formative years in Hawaii and Indonesia—the topic of transnational identity is reaching the forefront of the national consciousness in an unprecedented way. As our society becomes increasingly diverse and intermingled, it is increasingly imperative to understand how race and heritage impact our perceptions of and interactions with each other. Assumed Identities constitutes an important step in this direction.

However, “identity is a slippery concept,” say the editors of this instructive volume. This is nowhere more true than in the melting pot of the early trans-Atlantic cultures formed in the colonial New World during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. As the studies in this volume show, during this period in the trans-Atlantic world individuals and groups fashioned their identities but also had identities ascribed to them by surrounding societies. The historians who have contributed to this volume investigate these processes of multiple identity formation, as well as contemporary understandings of them.

Originating in the 2007 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures presented at the University of Texas at Arlington, Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World examines, among other topics, perceptions of racial identity in the Chesapeake community, in Brazil, and in Saint-Domingue (colonial-era Haiti). As the contributors demonstrate, the cultures in which these studies are sited helped define the subjects’ self-perceptions and the ways others related to them.

Table of Contents

  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race and Identity in the New World; Franklin W. Knight
  • “Thy Coming Fame, Ogé! Is Sure”: New Evidence on Ogé’s 1790 Revolt and the Beginnings of the Haitian Revolution; John D. Garrigus
  • “The Child Should Be Made a Christian”: Baptism, Race, and Identity in the Seventeenth-century Chesapeake; Rebecca Goetz
  • West Indian Identity in the Eighteenth Century; Trevor Burnard
  • Illegal Enslavement and the Precariousness of Freedom in Nineteenth-century Brazil; Sidney Chalhoub
  • Rosalie of the Poulard Nation: Freedom, Law, and Dignity in the Era of the Haitian Revolution; Rebecca J. Scott and Jean M. Hébrard
  • In Memoriam, Evan Anders
  • About the Contributors
  • Index
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