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Reproducing the British Caribbean

Sex, Gender, and Population Politics after Slavery

Juanita De Barros

Publication Year: 2014

This innovative book traces the history of ideas and policymaking concerning population growth and infant and maternal welfare in Caribbean colonies wrestling with the aftermath of slavery. Focusing on Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados from the nineteenth century through the 1930s, when violent labor protests swept the region, De Barros takes a comparative approach in analyzing the struggles among former slaves and masters attempting to determine the course of their societies after emancipation.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xvi

I have many people to thank for their help with this book. I must start with David Trotman, my former Ph.D. supervisor, and Woodville Marshall, professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies and someone who introduced me to Barbados. Both have been generous colleagues and tough readers who provided advice and encouragement at crucial stages of this...

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pp. 1-15

In 1893, in St. George parish, Barbados, Catherine Barrow gave birth in a mule pen. A homeless woman without friends or family to house her, she stayed in this inhospitable setting for fourteen days. During this time, Barrow received visits from parish authorities and daily rations of rice and milk. As Barrow’s opinions were not recorded in the written sources, we can only surmise what she thought of these arrangements. But T. Law...

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ONE. Slavery, Emancipation, and Reproducing the Race

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pp. 16-39

In 1860, a little more than twenty-five years after the end of slavery in the British Caribbean, Charles Buxton published a passionate defense of emancipation. The son of Thomas Fowell Buxton, a leading antislavery activist in Great Britain, the younger Buxton summarized some of the reasons his father’s generation of abolitionists had advanced to support emancipation. It was brutal and immoral as well as being an inefficient...

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TWO. Population Anxieties and Infant Mortality

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pp. 40-66

In his 1903 letter to Joseph Chamberlain, the governor of Guyana, James Swettenham, described a colony facing a population crisis. As he told the British secretary of state, the black population had increased by barely 22,000 souls since the end of slavery, and the total number may even have been falling. Immigration from Asia only served to disguise this fact. Most worrying of all to this colonial official, deaths among black...

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THREE. Grannies, Midwives, and Colonial Encounters

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pp. 67-93

Commentators in postslavery societies tended to represent midwives as a cross between Dickensian, gin-swilling slatterns and savage, uncivilized black women. In the postslavery British Caribbean, these old- and new-world tropes found form in the image of the “granny” midwife, whom Violet Nurse, an English matron, described as exercising a “sinister influence in advising the mothers in the use of bush...

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FOUR. Infant Welfare, Maternal Education, and Uplifting the Race

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pp. 94-125

Certified, trained colonial midwives were a crucial element in the effort to tackle the problem of infant mortality and to deal with the population anxieties of the early twentieth century. They were the birth attendants whose skill would ensure the safe delivery of newborns and whose presence would vanquish the dangerous granny midwives believed to threaten the health of infants and mothers. But their work did not end...

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FIVE. International Public Health and Caribbean Child-Saving

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pp. 126-158

In 1922, a white barbadian physician, G. B. Mason, published an article in which he argued that a large and healthy workforce was necessary for the economic survival of the British Caribbean. In particular, he emphasized the impact of infant mortality on the region’s economic health. To a significant extent, these sentiments underlay the early twentiethcentury child welfare initiatives discussed in the previous two chapters....

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Conclusion. Social Welfare Policies and Population Questions in the 1930s

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pp. 159-176

In an article that appeared in the Jamaican publication Public Opinion, Eulalie Domingo reflected on the ways in which Caribbean men and women used the Moyne Commission, the eponymous British government inquiry held to investigate the causes of the violent protests that roiled much of the British Caribbean between 1934 and 1938. As this Afro-Jamaican woman noted, men and women from throughout the region...


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pp. 177-230


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pp. 231-262


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pp. 263-279

E-ISBN-13: 9781469617930
E-ISBN-10: 1469617935
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469616056
Print-ISBN-10: 146961605X

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 4 halftones, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2014