Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood: The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823

By Emilia Viotti Da Costa | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN

A Crown of Glory
That Fadeth Not Away

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the
head of the live goat and confess over him all
the iniquities of the children of Israel and all
their transgressions in all their sins, putting
them upon the head of the goat, and shall
send him away by the hand of a fit man into
the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon
him all their iniquities unto a land not
inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the
wilderness.

Leviticus 16:21-22

Political trials are peculiar trials. Their goal is to reassert power and authority. A political trial is both a ritual of exorcism and a process of excommunication, whose purpose is to expel the one who has threatened the established order and raised doubts about its legitimacy. The defendant's guilt has been decided a priori. The trial is theater, staged to reinforce community bonds, to sacralize rules and beliefs, and to demonstrate the "fairness" of the punishment. In such trials, the accusation, the inquiry, and the sentence expose the ideological foundations of the social "order" and offer important clues to the nature of the conflict rending it. By defining what is criminal, the trial reveals what is the norm. Political "criminals" have few choices. They may conform to the norms, admit their "guilt," and make public penitence, in the hope their judges will be merciful (which is very unlikely considering the purposes of the trial). They may deny the ideas or actions imputed to them and plead innocence (which seldom has a better result). But they may reassert their repudiation of the norm and try to use the trial as a setting for the advocacy of their own ideas, a legitimation of their own norms, and a validation of their rebellion. In such a case, the trial brings to light with unusual clarity the ideological gulf that separates accusers

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Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood: The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood - The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823 *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Introduction *
  • Chapter One - Contradictory Worlds: Planters and Missionaries *
  • Chapter Two - Contradictory Worlds: Masters and Slaves *
  • Chapter Three - The Fiery Furnace *
  • Chapter Four - A True Lover of Man *
  • Chapter Five - Voices in the Air *
  • Chapter Six - A Man is Never Safe *
  • Chapter Seven - A Crown of Glory That Fadeth Not Away *
  • A Note on Sources *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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