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Title: The Measure of Empire: Crisis and Responsibility in Postemancipation Jamaica
Authors: Fryar, Christienna D.
Advisors: Colley, Linda J.
Contributors: History Department
Subjects: History
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines a range of local and imperial administrative responses to a series of crises in Jamaica after emancipation, from roughly 1840 to 1910. It demonstrates how British authorities adopted an initial default posture of nonintervention at the outset of local crises, viewing these events as colonial problems that should largely be resolved by Jamaican authorities and charities. Any deviations from this policy were strategic calculations designed either to minimize potential embarrassment to Britain or alleviate heightened political tensions between London and Kingston. On one level, the project illuminates a range of administrative practices and moral postures that those involved in running Jamaica employed during moments of crisis and catastrophe. But on another level, the insights gleaned from these case studies explain why the post-emancipation Caribbean remains a crucial site of historical inquiry for scholars of the British Empire. Once the wealthiest colony in the British Empire, Jamaica's economic value declined dramatically in the nineteenth century, as the emancipation of enslaved Afro-Jamaicans--and their subsequent large-scale abandonment of their former plantations--relegated the island to minor colony status. But empires gain their force from the breadth of their presence, not simply from their possession of a few key holdings. For those living in minor colonies, the fact that some other place was the most central arena of imperial activity mattered little. What was more important was that their local and imperial government respond adequately to their needs. For this reason, the demands that Jamaican subjects felt entitled to make on the Colonial Office and even Parliament in the wake of these crises provide one measure of how minor colonies continued to exist within imperial systems. As a whole, the project illuminates mechanisms of imperial administration and the interplay between those on the ground--colonial officials, local authorities, ordinary subjects--and the metropolitan government.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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