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Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders -Creation of Britain’s Atlantic Empire

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The FGSJ welcomes Dr Christine Walker to share details of her latest award winning book .

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Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain’s Atlantic Empire

Winner, 2020 Best Book Award, Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender

"Jamaica Ladies is an outstanding study of gender and power in early British Jamaica, original and frequently startling in its evidence and arguments. Focusing on free and freed 'handmaidens of empire,' it reveals a world in which women cemented slavery at the heart of colonial economies and societies."--Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, University of California, Davis

UNC Press describes "Jamaica Ladies is the first systematic study of the free and freed women of European, Euro-African, and African descent who perpetuated chattel slavery and reaped its profits in the British Empire. Their actions helped transform Jamaica into the wealthiest slaveholding colony in the Anglo-Atlantic world. Starting in the 1670s, a surprisingly large and diverse group of women helped secure English control of Jamaica and, crucially, aided its developing and expanding slave labour regime by acquiring enslaved men, women, and children to protect their own tenuous claims to status and independence.

Female colonists employed slaveholding as a means of advancing themselves socially and financially on the island. By owning others, they wielded forms of legal, social, economic, and cultural authority not available to them in Britain. In addition, slaveholding allowed free women of African descent, who were not far removed from slavery themselves, to cultivate, perform, and cement their free status. Alongside their male counterparts, women bought, sold, stole, and punished the people they claimed as property and vociferously defended their rights to do so. As slavery's beneficiaries, these women worked to stabilize and propel this brutal labour regime from its inception."

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