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Caribbean Colonialism

Sabine Cadeau

The Caribbean was the initial site of European overseas conquest and colonization.  Even today, some Caribbean islands remain colonies.  This session considers Caribbean colonialism from the late fifteenth century to the present.  It explores the historical and theoretical relevance of colonialism in the Caribbean and it affords particular attention to the slave trade, slavery, the Haitian Revolution, and the new societies, cultures, and nationalities that were created as a result of colonization, enslavement, resistance, and anticolonial revolution.  The session concludes with the persistence of the problem of sovereignty in the twentieth century Caribbean, and the social movements that seek to address histories of racism, extractive economies, foreign debt, and foreign intervention.

Key Issues

  • Slavery
  • The Atlantic Plantation Complex
  • Creolization
  • Haitian Revolution
  • U.S. Empire

Key Texts

  • Richard Dunn. Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1972. 
  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot, “An Unthinkable History: The Haitian Revolution as a Non-Event.” Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995, 70-107.
  • Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. 
  • Rebecca J. Scott “Explaining Abolition: Contradiction, Adaptation, and Challenge in Cuban Slave Society, 1860-86,” in Caribbean Slave Society and Economy, Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepard, Eds. New Press, 1993.