Diana Paton writes:
Pamela Scully and Diana Paton, eds. Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World. Duke University Press, 2005.
via Duke U Press:
Diana Paton, No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780–1870. Duke University Press, 2004.
via Duke U Press:
In response to Tacky’s Rebellion in 1760 in Jamaica, the colony’s House of Assembly passed a law naming a new crime, “obeah.” This important statute led the way in establishing obeah as a phenomenon understood by colonial authorities as a singular and dangerous problem. Investigating the Jamaica assembly’s decision within a wider Caribbean and Atlantic context and alongside the near-contemporaneous “Makandal conspiracy” in Saint Domingue, which was interpreted by French planters as a mass outbreak of poisoning, shows how similar practices came to be interpreted and constructed in different ways in different colonial cultures. The practices used by Tacky’s “obeah man” and Makandal’s followers were conceptually and practically similar, deriving from African understandings of medicine in which substances could be imbued with spiritual power. Why, then, did the French colonists emphasize poison while the British emphasized obeah (which they glossed with the term “witchcraft”)? In addition to the differences between developments in the colonies, an important context for understanding this distinction was the European experience of the decriminalization of witchcraft. In France decriminalization led to heightened anxiety about poison, while in England witchcraft decriminalization was not connected to poison but made the term and legal category of witchcraft a difficult one for planters to invoke.
Posted at History in Focus, a 14 volume journal published by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. [On the main page, the link to the issue on slavery is broken. Access it here.]
This year’s commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the passage of the British Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade have tended to focus on those exceptional individuals who led movements against the trade and against slavery itself. (1) For some, those individuals have been located primarily in Britain: people like Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce and – finally being given his due in recent years – Olaudah Equiano. Others have countered that it is more appropriate to examine the frequently revolutionary actions of enslaved people themselves, whose ‘200 Years’ War’ against slavery, as Barbadian historian Hilary Beckles describes it, ultimately increased the economic and political costs of that system to the point where it could no longer be sustained. (2) On both sides, the emphasis has largely been on men, despite some efforts to include a token woman or two: a Hannah More here, a Nanny or a Mary Prince there. This concentration on men is almost inevitable when historical narrative becomes a search for heroic leaders, for the social conventions of most societies have tended to limit women’s capacity to become prominent leaders.
Yet this attention to the exceptional threatens to obscure the quotidian. What about the men and women who lived through slavery without taking up arms against it? Their experience was the norm for slave societies and, I would argue, is as important, as interesting and as full of political struggle as the lives of those who became rebels. This essay focuses on the everyday lives of enslaved people, especially enslaved women, in the British colonies in the Caribbean, and asks what difference the abolition of the slave trade meant to them. It focuses in particular on two issues: labour and reproduction. Drawing on secondary work as well as my own research in Jamaican archives, it shows the complex results of the end of importation of enslaved Africans. One outcome of the end of the slave trade was increased pressure on enslaved women, and thus increased conflict between them and those who sought to exploit them.
Read it in its entirety here.
The index of articles for the issue on slavery:
by Marika Sherwood
by Diana Paton
by Christer Petley
by Natalie Zacek
by Tim Lockley
by James Walvin
by Pieter C. Emmer
Ana Lucia Araujo
Volume 30:2 is a special issue called “Remembering Slave Trade Abolitions: Reflections on 2007 in International Perspective”.
Guest Editors: Diana Paton and Jane Webster.
Remembering Slave Trade Abolitions: Reflections on 2007 in International Perspective
Diana Paton; Jane Webster
Pages 161 – 167
Articles PART 1: PLACE, LOCALITY AND COMMEMORATION
‘Do You Remember the Days of Slav’ry?’ Connecting the Present with the Past in Contemporary Jamaica
Pages 169 – 178
Barbados and the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade
Pages 179 – 195
Reflections in a Shattered Glass: The British Council’s Celebrations of the Bicentenary of the 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in Ghana
Pages 197 – 207
The Slave Trade in Northern Ghana: Landmarks, Legacies and Connections
Benjamin W. Kankpeyeng
Pages 209 – 221
Articles PART 2: LOCAL LEGACIES IN BRITAIN
Remembering Slavery and Abolition in Bristol
Pages 223 – 246
Black Voices and Absences in the Commemorations of Abolition in North East England
Pages 247 – 257
Bringing it Home: Making Local Meaning in 2007 Bicentenary Exhibitions
Pages 259 – 275
Articles PART 3: COMMEMORATION IN PRACTICE
Interpreting the Bicentenary in Britain
Pages 277 – 289
Revealing Histories, Dialogising Collections: Museums and Galleries in North West England Commemorating the Abolition of the Slave Trade
Pages 291 – 309
The Unredeemed Object: Displaying Abolitionist Artefacts in 2007
Pages 311 – 325
The Brooks Slave Ship Icon: A ‘Universal Symbol’?
Pages 327 – 338