Working within the context of the origin of the wage labor category in classical political economy, Baronov begins by questioning the central role of wage-labor within capitalist production through an examination of key works by Smith, Ricardo, and Marx, as well as the historical conditions informing their analyses. The study then turns to the specific case of Brazil between 1850-1888, comparing the abolition of slavery in three Brazilian regions: the northeast sugar region, the Paraiba Valley, and Western Sao Paulo. Through this analysis, Baronov provides a critique of the dominant interpretation of abolition (as a transition from slave labor to wage labor) and suggests an alternative interpretation that places a greater emphasis on the role of non-wage labor forms and extra-market factors in the shaping of the post-slavery social order.
The Backhouse story provides insights into important aspects of life in the male city of Havana, social antagonisms between Britons and North Americans, interactions within European social circles, religious tension, gender relations, and the reality of tropical disease. High drama is added to the narrative in the author's description of the tragic and mysterious murder of George Backhouse in August 1855, possibly the result of a slave traders' conspiracy.
When a small group of free men of color gathered in 1838 to celebrate the end of apprenticeship in Barbados, they spoke of emancipation as the moment of freedom for all colored people, not just the former slaves. The fact that many of these men had owned slaves themselves gives a hollow ring to their lofty pronouncements. Yet in The Children of Africa in the Colonies, Melanie J. Newton demonstrates that simply dismissing these men as hypocrites ignores the complexity of their relationship to slavery. Exploring the role of free blacks in Barbados from 1790 to 1860, Newton argues that the emancipation process transformed social relations between Afro-Barbadians and slaves and ex-slaves.
Free people of color in Barbados genuinely wanted slavery to end, Newton explains, a desire motivated in part by the realization that emancipation offered them significant political advantages. As a result, free people's goals for the civil rights struggle that began in Barbados in the 1790s often diverged from those of the slaves, and the tensions that formed along class, education, and gender lines severely weakened the movement. While the populist masses viewed emancipation as an opportunity to form a united community among all people of color, wealthy free people viewed it as a chance to better their position relative to white Europeans.
To this end, free people of color refashioned their identities in relationship to Africa. Prior to the 1820s, Newton reveals, they downplayed their African descent, emphasizing instead their legal status as free people and their position as owners of property, including slaves. As the emancipation debate in the Atlantic world reached its zenith in the 1820s and 1830s and whites grew increasingly hostile and inflexible, elite free people allied themselves with the politics of the working class and the slaves, relying for the first time on their African heritage and the association of their skin color with slavery to openly challenge white supremacy.
After emancipation, free people of color again redefined themselves, now as loyal British imperial subjects, casting themselves in the role of political protectors of their ex-slave brethren in an attempt to escape social and political disenfranchisement. While some wealthy men of color gained political influence as a result of emancipation, the absence of fundamental change in the distribution of land and wealth left most men and women of color with little hope of political independence or social mobility.
Mining a rich vein of primary and secondary sources, Newton's study elegantly describes how class divisions and disagreements over labor and social policy among free and slave black Barbadians led to political unrest and devastated the hope for an entirely new social structure and a plebeian majority in the British Caribbean.
Scott demonstrates that slaves themselves helped to accelerate the elimination of slavery. Through flight, participation in nationalist insurgency, legal action, and self-purchase, slaves were able to force the issue, helping to dismantle slavery piece by piece. With emancipation, former slaves faced transformed, but still very limited, economic options. By the end of the nineteenth-century, some chose to join a new and ultimately successful rebellion against Spanish power.
In a new afterword, prepared for this edition, the author reflects on the complexities of postemancipation society, and on recent developments in historical methodology that make it possible to address these questions in new ways.
Although Spanish laws endowed elite men with an authority over children that mirrored and reinforced the monarch's legitimacy as a colonial "Father King," Premo finds that, in practice, Lima's young often grew up in the care of adults--such as women and slaves--who were subject to the patriarchal authority of others. During the Bourbon Reforms, city inhabitants of all castes and classes began to practice a "new politics of the child," challenging men and masters by employing Enlightenment principles of childhood. Thus the social transformations and political dislocations of the late eighteenth century occurred not only in elite circles and royal palaces, Premo concludes, but also in the humble households of a colonial city.