Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean

Early American Studies
Narrated by: Tom Sleeker
Length: 8 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: History, Americas
5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

In Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean, Randy M. Browne looks past the familiar numbers of life and death and into a human drama in which enslaved Africans and their descendants struggled to survive against their enslavers, their environment, and sometimes one another. Grounded in the 19th-century British colony of Berbice, one of the Atlantic world's best-documented slave societies and the last frontier of slavery in the British Caribbean, Browne argues that the central problem for most enslaved people was not how to resist or escape slavery but simply how to stay alive.

Guided by the voices of hundreds of enslaved people preserved in an extraordinary set of legal records, Browne reveals a world of Caribbean slavery that is both brutal and breathtakingly intimate. Field laborers invoked abolitionist-inspired legal reforms to protest brutal floggings, spiritual healers conducted secretive nighttime rituals, anxious drivers weighed the competing pressures of managers and the condition of their fellow slaves in the fields, and women fought back against abusive masters and husbands. Browne shows that at the core of enslaved people's complicated relationships with their enslavers and one another was the struggle to live in a world of death.

The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

"An outstanding contribution to our understanding of the legalities of Atlantic slavery and the varieties of lived experience among the enslaved." (Journal of Social History)

"Illuminating...the best portrait of the slave driver to be found in the literature." (Social History)

"Browne's unparalleled examination of the difficult lives of enslaved people makes Surviving Slavery required reading for historians of Atlantic slavery." (Journal of the Early Republic)

©2017 University of Pennsylvania Press (P)2020 Redwood Audiobooks

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  • Colm Lynch
  • 06-13-20

an illuminating compilation

A successful illumination of a voiceless tragedy that echoes through the ages. The author's compilation of seemingly dry 19th century legalese paints a disturbingly personable series of accounts that not only helps to understand what life in slave plantations was in an everyday sense for ordinary slaves, as a period soap opera might, but also sets in context the uniqueness of this particular cuktural setting and the broader context of slavery in the Atlantic world. What's extraordinary and horrifying is how lines between worlds become blurred to the point where the reader can imagine this world of industrialised slavery as being normalized because of the familiar human melodrama portrayed, at least in the depictions of human, emotional reactions, capitalist motivations and abuses of power within an otherwise unfamiliar political strata as from the bottom up. For me it has been uniquely informative and moving.