Verene Shepherd on history and resistance, particularly resistance of Caribbean women (Nanny of the Maroons, Mary Seacole, and others).
Verene Shepherd, professor of social history at the University of the West Indies, reflects on the 150th anniversary of Morant Bay and the execution of Paul Bogle…
What was, in your view, the main trigger for the rebellion?
VS: First of all, it was a war, not a rebellion. Both sides were armed and the word “war” has been enshrined in the oral history of the period. Of course the colonial British were better armed and used that to their advantage. The main trigger was the response to the Jamaican people’s search for equality, justice and non-racialism. In 1865, Jamaican people confronted the state in their search for those rights and freedoms they assumed would have accompanied Emancipation from enslavement in 1838, but which remained elusive decades after. Rather than constructing a post-slavery society built on mutual respect, equality and non-racialism, the British colonialists cemented their socio-economic and political control over the Jamaican masses and presided over a system of racial apartheid. This led to increasing protests as those emerging out of slavery, or their descendants, refused to live in a society that simply continued the slave relations of production. Increasing lobbying, petitioning and protests for civil rights and justice by the black masses, including a march to seek audience with Governor Eyre in 1865, were met by state terrorism and an unrelenting system of white supremacy.
African Diaspora, Ph.D. is revisiting scholarship that has shaped the study of people of African descent across time and place.
Barbara Bush. Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650-1838. Heinemann, 1990.
In a 1991 review of the volume, Verene A. Shepherd wrote:
Shepherd, Verene. Livestock, Sugar and Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica. First Edition. Ian Randle Publishers, Jamaica, 2009.
“Livestock, Sugar and Slavery examines the evolution and expansion of the pen-keeping industry, the role and status of the pen-keepers and the experiences of the enslaved labourers on pens, a virtually unexplored area of Caribbean history. It argues that the relationship between those who raised livestock and those who grew sugar cane, while symbiotic in one sense, was also conflict-ridden in another. There were contests between sugar proprietors and pen-keepers over land, boundaries, enslaved labourers, and social and political status, demonstrating that the ranking game was intensely practised in the age of modernity. Complete with copious notes and an extensive bibliography, Livestock, Sugar and Slavery provides a comprehensive source material for students and academics interested in colonial Jamaica.”