In 1833, after centuries of resistance and rebellion by enslaved people, decades of popularly-mobilized antislavery protests, and years of economic struggle on colonial plantations, England’s Parliament initiated the process of slave emancipation in the British Empire.
The greatest indictment of the hard-driving slave system in the 18th-century British Caribbean was that the enslaved population never achieved natural population increase (except briefly in Barbados but only by 1810). Abolitionists seized on the failure of slave populations to thrive as a sign that slavery was immoral.
Ikuko Asaka opens this ambitious book by referencing the climatic and geographic rebuttal of black journalist and abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd.
Daniel Livesay’s first monograph comes at an opportune moment. With the recent release of digital projects such as the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain database, historical attention has focused in on the lives of people of colour in early modern Britain.
Christer Petley’s book takes the life of Simon Taylor, the richest of Jamaica’s ‘planter class’ in an age of revolutions, to reveal broader truths about the British Empire. At its core, this is a biographical study based on Taylor’s extensive surviving correspondence with friends, family, and commercial allies.
Asian American studies in which the ‘American’ refers to Latin America have seen a considerable growth in recent years.
In Caribbean New Orleans Cécile Vidal has brought together a prodigious volume and range of archival research in what is the most detailed social history of the city during the French period.
Sometimes (not often enough) an academic book comes along that ticks all the boxes: it is based on thorough research, spanning archives on different continents, engaging with rich and varied source materials; it is held together by a tight set of themes; it is written in beautiful prose.