A Dark Inheritance Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica Brooke N. Newman

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
28 Aug 2018
ISBN:
9780300225556
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
352 pages: 235 x 156 x 29mm
Illustrations:
25 b-w illus.

A major reassessment of the development of race and subjecthood in the British Atlantic

Focusing on Jamaica, Britain’s most valuable colony in the Americas by the mid-eighteenth century, this book explores the relationship between racial classifications and the inherited rights and privileges associated with British subject status. Brooke Newman reveals the centrality of notions of blood and blood mixture to evolving racial definitions and sexual practices in colonial Jamaica and to legal and political debates over slavery and the rights of imperial subjects on both sides of the Atlantic.

Weaving together a diverse range of sources, Newman shows how colonial racial ideologies rooted in fictions of blood ancestry at once justified permanent, hereditary slavery for Africans and barred members of certain marginalized groups from laying claim to British liberties on the basis of hereditary status. This groundbreaking study demonstrates that challenges to an Atlantic slave system underpinned by distinctions of blood had far-reaching consequences for British understandings of race, gender, and national belonging.

Brooke N. Newman is associate professor of history and associate director of the Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is coeditor of Native Diasporas: Indigenous Identities and Settler Colonialism in the Americas and lives in Richmond, VA.

“This exhilarating and innovative study of race, sex, and subjecthood in Jamaica demonstrates how a concentrated examination of “blood purity” gives us an entirely fresh perspective on crucial issues in the formation of identity within black and white populations. A major and exciting advance in understanding the British Atlantic.”—Trevor Burnard, University of Melbourne


“In this richly researched and cogently argued book, Brooke Newman reveals how ideas about blood and law and the making of a slave society in colonial Jamaica helped to construct as well as deconstruct racial difference in the imperial order. Few historians have done a better job of analyzing the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race in the print culture of the British Empire. A must read for any historian of slavery and abolition.”—Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition


“Brooke Newman's fascinating account of colonial Jamaican racial politics reveals the British investment in concepts of inherited blood, birthright, and Christianity as the legal foundation for English privilege and enslaved African subordination.”—Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania