Caribbean Exchanges: Slavery and the Transformation of English Society, 1640-1700

Caribbean Exchanges: Slavery and the Transformation of English Society, 1640-1700

by Susan Dwyer Amussen


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English colonial expansion in the Caribbean was more than a matter of migration and trade. It was also a source of social and cultural change within England. Finding evidence of cultural exchange between England and the Caribbean as early as the seventeenth century, Susan Dwyer Amussen uncovers the learned practice of slaveholding.

As English colonists in the Caribbean quickly became large-scale slaveholders, they established new organizations of labor, new uses of authority, new laws, and new modes of violence, punishment, and repression in order to manage slaves. Concentrating on Barbados and Jamaica, England's two most important colonies, Amussen looks at cultural exports that affected the development of race, gender, labor, and class as categories of legal and social identity in England. Concepts of law and punishment in the Caribbean provided a model for expanded definitions of crime in England; the organization of sugar factories served as a model for early industrialization; and the construction of the "white woman" in the Caribbean contributed to changing notions of "ladyhood" in England. As Amussen demonstrates, the cultural changes necessary for settling the Caribbean became an important, though uncounted, colonial export.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807831656
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/24/2007
Edition description: 1
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Susan Dwyer Amussen is professor of interdisciplinary studies at the Graduate College of the Union Institute and University. She is author or editor of three books, including An Ordered Society: Gender and Class in Early Modern England.

Table of Contents


Introduction. The English Caribbean and Caribbean England
Chapter 1. Trade and Settlement: England and the World in the Seventeenth Century
Chapter 2. Islands of Difference: Crossing the Atlantic, Experiencing the West Indies
Chapter 3. "A happy and innocent way of thriving": Planting Sugar, Building a Society
Chapter 4. "Right English Government": Law and Liberty, Service and Slavery
0 Chapter 5. "Due Order and Subjection": Hierarchy, Resistance, and Repression
Chapter 6. "If her son is living with you she sends her love": The Caribbean in England, 1650-1700
Epilogue. Race, Gender, and Class Crossing the English Atlantic

A section of illustrations

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From the Publisher

Amussen astutely demonstrates that the changes that resulted from the trans-Atlantic movement of both slaveholders and slaves ensured that no institution in England remained untouched by slavery. By attending to the details of ordinary life on Caribbean plantations and the ways in which these details made their way back to England, Amussen greatly enhances our understanding of English colonialism and plantation building in the Americas.—Margo Hendricks, University of California, Santa Cruz

No scholar with the depth of Susan Dwyer Amussen's knowledge of seventeenth-century English society has ever considered the impact of Caribbean colonies and slavery on that society. England and its island colonies differed radically, but owning colonies and slaves changed the English not only in the islands but also at home in profound ways. Amussen has written a wide-ranging and fascinating account of that transformation.—Carla Gardina Pestana, Miami University

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