Disputing Authorities: Re-writing the Caribbean, 1600-c.1720

An open discussion about its scope, structure and ideas.

Monday, 21 March 2011


With thanks to Thomas Glave.
I attended a conference of Caribbeanists in January and listened to Thomas reading extracts of his work.
He seemed to engage with people in three spheres, in concentric circles: 1) the political sphere, 2) the personal sphere and 3) the intimate sphere.
So, I am going to do likewise.
I am trying it out in a first chapter on 'Place'.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Chapters - 22.04.10

King (Queen?) - any 'devolution' to viceroy/lieutenant?
Biblical patriarchs? (Willoughby?)
Parke - 1. sexual patriarchy with white women
2. attacks others' sexual-relations with black women
Patronage - governors
Codrington - does Codrington College count as patriarchy?
White attitudes towards Africans/Americans?
White master as father (literal/metaphorical)
Indenture (does it fit here?)
AmerIndians - general hostility towards them in the region mitigates against patriarchal
(do attitudes towards Africans change when there are signs of assertiveness?)
Primogeniture (why not?)
Mainland v Island
Process - first footing, survey, measurement etc.
Long lot
Relationship between land and water
river position
trade/ warehousing/ production/ settlement
coastal - shipping, piracy, defence
Parishes (and tribes?)
Slaves as real estate
Land settlement - on soldiers/ adventurers/ pirates/ rebels
(does it make any difference if land is settled on a supporter of the
regime or an opponent?)
Plat books and inventories
Maps, charts and the uncharted
Settlement or nomadism of AmerIndians
Slave 'settlements' - landlessness
War - with external powers
recruiting in Caribbean
Militia - who has guns? Handler debate
Army and navy stationed in the Caribbean
Slave rebellion
Indian wars
Arawak/carib - Oroonoko
Violence against slaves
branding, beating, coercion, rape
Punishment - capital and corporal
Assassination/ murder/ rebellion
does it make a difference who rebels?
Separation of homeland from home
Family: families at home divided
new families in W.I.
cross-racial families
Plantation (plantation as community?)
Servants - domestic, indentured, agricultural
AmerIndian (debate about fixity or mobility of settlement - overlap with territory?)
Pirates alternative community?
Republics another alternative community?
So far, have not found a home for representation and faction.
Possible chapters on authority, representation, law, morality (?)

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Assuming that the thematic chapter-headings work, I thought I'd start by trying to put together that on 'Patriarchy'.
The idea came to me whilst I was working on the assumption that there would be a chapter on 'governors', and I was wondering about the patriarchal differences between Francis Lord Willoughby of Parham (who seems to have had a working copy of Filmer's Patriarcha in his head) and Daniel Parke, whose patriarchy was underpinned by more than a hint of sexuality.
I'm wondering if the idea would work across, between and within the three ethnic groups - African, American, European - and whether it would work as a means to distinguish paternalism (towards slaves, for example) and whatever one might call the more brutal end of the slavery spectrum (chattelism? does that allow for violence to be reserved for a chapter all to itself?).

Sunday, 14 February 2010


My feeling is that the chapters should be thematic. The aim is to write a matched pair of monographs, with the second one outlining the basic social bonds (and contestation) within the region over the same period: social history lends itself much more easily to thinking in thematic headings. Even if these are not the heads finally employed, one thinks of 'family', 'kin', 'gender', 'childhood', 'status' etc.
What would be the political equivalents, and what would each theme contain, bearing in mind that what I am trying to achieve is a chapter in which I might cover all of the geographical areas of the 'Anglophone Caribbean colonies', and all of the people present there over time, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, status and so on.
So far, I am thinking along the lines of chapters on ‘patriarchy’, to include hierarchy, paternalism, patronage and sexuality; ‘violence’ enacted within repression, oppression and resistance, in committing crime and imposing laws; ‘faction’, to denote the difficulties amongst and between all in forming lasting alliances; ‘territory’ to encompass the limitations of environment, management and control of land and seas. There will inevitably follow, if such heads are adhered to, a re-conceptualisation of ‘liberty’ and ‘authority’, but I cannot decide whether these are chapter headings in themselves, or overall conclusions to be drawn.
If 'liberty' and 'authority' are separate chapters, that would make six chapters, plus introduction and conclusion, which would strike me as about the right number. If they are not chapters in themselves, then I only have four heads, which would not seem enough, or, alternatively, if these were heads of sections, with sub-chapters within each section, then four sections would seem too many.