Slavery, Freedom and Gender: The Dynamics of Caribbean Society

Slavery, Freedom and Gender: The Dynamics of Caribbean Society

Slavery, Freedom and Gender: The Dynamics of Caribbean Society

Slavery, Freedom and Gender: The Dynamics of Caribbean Society

Synopsis

This collection of essays by distinguished scholars began as a series of lectures sponsored by the Department of History, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, to honour internationally recognized Caribbean historian Elsa Goveia. The collection consists of thirteen lectures delivered between 1987 and 1998. The book is divided into two broad sections: Slavery and Freedom, which features critical research on slavery and post-emancipation society, and Gender. Many of these seminal works are now widely available for the first time to the large number of individuals interested in Caribbean history and gender studies.

Excerpt

My first acquaintance with the name Elsa Goveia was second hand, through the vision and words of my high school history teacher who had graduated from the University of the West Indies at Mona where he had studied under her. As we prepared for the Ordinary Level examination in West Indian history, he made constant reference to her brilliant lectures. One immediately sensed that this was an extraordinary person whom he regarded almost with reverence and awe. It was another three years before I met the great lady in person and sat in the very classes that he had been privileged to take. It was then that I fully understood and shared his admiration. As I listened to her lectures, history took on new meaning. It was not just the study of long past events (and dates), no longer an esoteric exercise. This was our history, our past – a past that we were not simply spectators to but the principal participants in, a past that our ancestors actively shaped. We were at the centre of our own history. In the 1960s this was an entirely new view of West Indian history. No wonder her lectures were overcrowded. To get a seat in the lecture room one had to turn up at least fifteen minutes early. Without disrespect to the other lecturers, hers were by far the best received of any I attended during my undergraduate years.

I was further privileged when she was selected to be one of my postgraduate research supervisors. Then I saw her at work close up. She was very demanding of high standards of performance, yet kind and encouraging. In our one-on-one sessions, she was always probing and urging me to greater effort . . .

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