As this article shows, the dearth of literature on the first half of the eighteenth century has produced a skewed account of the gendered and sexualized dynamics of colonialism in the Anglo-Atlantic world—one that characterizes an era that was increasingly restrictive of female sexuality and marriage. Using Jamaica as a case study, it argues, instead, that the colony’s lax handling of the sexual activities of all free people—men and women alike—was an essential component of the island’s economic success. At the same time that Jamaica was becoming the wealthiest and largest slaveholding colony, it also had the highest illegitimacy rate in the empire.


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