In an empire built on racial slavery, what roles do blood purity and citizenship play in the creation of subject citizens? This is one of the many questions broached by Dr. Brooke Newman
in her new book A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica
(Yale University Press, 2018), Newman tells the story of how racial mixing affected the status of many different groups of people in colonial Jamaica. In doing so, Newman interrogates how notions of race were largely dependent on government’s role in shaping the meaning(s) of it. Largely, such discussions were based on the sexual violation and rape of enslaved women. Such violations were exacerbated by British print culture’s dissemination of what could only be termed a sort of modern-day rape tourism. A Dark Inheritance
ultimately shifts our understandings of British notions of race, sex, and national belonging.
Adam McNeil is a PhD student in History, African American Public Humanities Initiative and Colored Conventions Project Fellow at the University of Delaware. He can be reached on Twitter @CulturedModesty.