New Book: David M. Stark’s “Slave Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico”

I am happy to announce David Stark’s new book, Slaves Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico.”

Repeating Islands


David M. Stark has recently published his new book, Slave Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico (University Press of Florida, 2015). Puerto Rican historian Dr. Fernando Pico says that the author “deftly uses the available parish registers to document the stages of the coming of African men and women to Puerto Rico in the eighteenth century and reveals patterns of family formation and bonds of solidarity among the African slaves and with the rest of society.”

Description: The hato economy—a combination of livestock ranching, foodstuff cultivation, and timber harvesting—figured prominently in Puerto Rico and greatly impacted slave communities. When animal husbandry drove much of the island’s economy, slavery was less harsh than in plantations geared toward crop cultivation, argues David M. Stark. Slaves in the hato economy experienced more favorable conditions for family formation, relatively relaxed work regimes, higher fertility rates, and lower mortality rates, he argues.

While much scholarship…

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Genocide, Narrative, and Indigenous Exile from the Caribbean Archipelago

Newton On the importance of The Carib-Garifuna survival


Melanie NewtonThis spring’s colloquium series Whither the Caribbean? Critical Perspectives on History, Politics, and Culture opened with a talk by Melanie Newton, Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto.  Newton specializes in the social and cultural history of the Caribbean and the history of slavery, gender, and emancipation in the Atlantic World.

Newton presented her paper “The Race Leapt at Sauteurs”: Genocide, Narrative, and Indigenous Exile from the Caribbean Archipelago, which explores the history of Garifuna people (Afro-indigenous descendants of the people of the ‘Caribbee’ islands) between 1492 and the eighteenth century. Her objective was to demonstrate that the Lesser Antilles’s histories of enslavement and colonization fit the 1951 United Nations definition of genocide as an attempt to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” To do so, she took into account three acts of annihilationist violence committed by the Spanish in…

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Junto March Madness: Round 1, Day 2 Voting (Brackets 3 and 4)

If ranking historical primary sources is exciting to you, head over to @thejuntoblog ‘s March Madness tournament.

The Junto

JMM15Today we commence with voting on Round 1, brackets 3 and 4. As a reminder, you can find the entire bracket here. Again, we’ve included arguments on behalf of various documents, written by either Junto bloggers or friends of the blog. Please feel free to add your arguments in the comments, because the purpose of this month’s “tournament” is to provide a resource for teachers of early American history.

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The Great African Slave Revolt of 1825: Cuba and the Fight for Freedom in Matanzas – by Barcia, Manuel – Heuman – 2015 – Bulletin of Latin American Research – Wiley Online Library

The Great African Slave Revolt of 1825: Cuba and the Fight for Freedom in Matanzas - by Barcia, Manuel - Heuman - 2015 - Bulletin of Latin American Research - Wiley Online Library

Allow me to bring your attention to Gad Heuman’s review of Manuel Barcia’s book. He writes: “Barcia’s argument about the role of Africans who in 1825 were seeking an end to their own enslavement rather than abolishing the slave system, provides an important critique of Eugene Genovese’s thesis. More importantly, Barcia has provided a fascinating and richly documented account of a rebellion that, in his view, was an extension of West African warfare in a Cuban setting.”

The Great African Slave Revolt of 1825: Cuba and the Fight for Freedom in Matanzas – by Barcia, Manuel – Heuman – 2015 – Bulletin of Latin American Research – Wiley Online Library.

Review of Évelyne Trouillot’s “The Infamous Rosalie”

Sepinwall makes me want to read “Rosalie.” I appreciate how she relates it to the Holocaust survival accounts. “Rosalie” should accompany me to the classroom.

Another work that is also a scholarly incursion outside of academic writing is Rafe Blaufarb’s Inhuman traffick: the international struggle against the transatlantic slave trade: a graphic history.

Repeating Islands


“If This is a Woman: Evelyne Trouillot’s The Infamous Rosalie and the Lost Stories of New-World Slavery,” a review by Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall of Évelyne Trouillot, The Infamous Rosalie (trans. by M.A. Salvodon, foreword by Edwidge Danticat, Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2013, 132 pp.) appeared in Fiction and Film for French Historians.

You can access the review at (Fiction and Film for French Historians,Volume 5, Issue 4, February 2015)

Original French edition: Rosalie l’Infâme, Paris: Dapper, 2003 and Port-au-Prince: Éditions Presses Nationales d’Haïti, 2007

Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

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Sibylle Fischer on the early Haitian Law

Sibylle Fischer on the early Haitian Law

Dennis R. Hidalgo

Re-reading: Sybelle Fischer’s Modernity Disavowed.

Look here for a post on this book at the blog for Caribbean & Atlantic Bibliographies

Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution

Fischer’s book is always refreshing and helpful. I realized how much it had influenced me when in a meeting with the author I told a story from the book back to her without realizing that I had actually learned it from her book. I came back to it today to review what she had written on the early Haitian law in chapters 1113. Though she only made a few references to the 1816 Constitution, which is my focus, her in-depth study of the earlier ones, particularly that of 1801 (Toussaint Louverture’s) is crucial to my study on the Haitian law. Also helpful is how she projects these constitutions forward in time and see their…

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Fischer and Blackburn on French abolitionism

Sybille Fischer’s contention with Robin Blackburn in two block quotes:

Before considering two recent alternative proposals to this view, it is worth pointing out that from a political perspective decidedly different from that of Ozouf, we come across a similar phenomenon. In his monumental study of antislavery between 1776 and 1848, Blackburn comments on Brissot a number of times, usually linking Brissot’s stance on slavery to his “new forward policy which would take France to war in Europe and would reassert metropolitan authority in the Antilles.” 16 Never mind that Brissot had written pamphlets like “Réflexions sur l’admission aux États généraux des députés de Saint-Domingue” (Reflections about the admission of deputies from Saint Domingue to the General Estates) where he advocates a strong autonomy for the possessions outre-mer and says, among other things: “It is impossible that in the whirlwind that sweeps everything toward liberty, the substantial colonies alone remain attached to bodies that are two thousand leagues away from them, and that they should consent to be governed by those.” This proposition raises for Brissot the problem of slavery, since immediate autonomy would have given all the power to the planters. Unsurprisingly, Brissot could not figure out a solution that would have guaranteed both abolition of slavery and autonomy, and he appears to have contradicted himself at various points. Whatever his insights or failings may have been, however, it is somewhat surprising that Blackburn presents Brissot’s view on slavery as unequivocally linked to French colonialism, while also diminishing his import for the slavery question as a whole. At one point we even read the following: Paradoxically by the time the Convention decreed the abolition of colonial slavery in 1794 the Amis des Noirs no longer functioned and most of its members no longer played a role. It is almost as if enlightened abolitionism was as much part of the old order as the exclusif and the acquis de Guinée. Only once this whole superstructure was in ruins could slave emancipation be adopted in the metropolis. 18 No mention here of the fact that one of the leading proponents of abolition, Brissot, did not play a role because he had found his end on the guillotine. No mention either of the fact that the Amis des Noirs and their Girondin supporters had been involved in a publicity war with the representatives of the planters, who, out of hatred of Brissot, had thrown their support behind Robespierre (with whom they shared nothing, of course, except hatred of Brissot), and that the demise of the Girondins has to be counted at least in part as a victory for the planters.

Fischer, Sibylle (2004-04-09). Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution (John Hope Franklin Center Book) (Kindle Locations 4183-4203). Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.

For some reason, Brissot appears to be an extremely uncomfortable figure in the story. Whatever Blackburn might have in mind in this somewhat obscure paragraph— the vague “as if “ clearly signals an element of speculation and hesitance here— the upshot seems to be that slavery is a premodern phenomenon that vanishes only when feudalism has dissolved. Although this suggestion is quite inconsistent with the overall argument Blackburn pursues in The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, the issue of the Girondins appears to push him to retreat to an economic determinism that is otherwise absent from the book. For the Girondins, antislavery was by and large a strategic matter in the attempt to expand and consolidate the French Empire. In other words, Blackburn locates in the Girondin faction a universalism of liberty that turns into imperialism— an argument we are familiar with from those who, unlike Blackburn, want to discard the whole project of an emancipatory modernity as an imperialism in disguise. Instead of confronting the underlying problem of how to resolve the potential contradictions between a universalist ideal of individual liberty, popular sovereignty, and national sovereignty head-on, Blackburn seems to run away from the problem by giving a one-sided account of the Girondin position in which antislavery becomes a mere posture.

Fischer, Sibylle (2004-04-09). Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution (John Hope Franklin Center Book) (Kindle Locations 4203-4213). Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.