Jenny ShawSep 23, 2015
Everyday Life in the Early English Caribbean
Irish, Africans, and the Construction of Difference
University of Georgia Press 2013
Jenny Shaw's recent book Everyday Life in the Early English Caribbean: Irish, Africans, and the Construction of Difference (University of Georgia Press, 2013) analyzes how social, religious, and ethnic categories operated in Barbados and the Leeward Islands. She documents the arrival of Irish migrants into the Caribbean who came in some cases involuntarily, and in other cases with dreams to make their own fortunes in the islands' booming sugar trade. Their Catholicism and social standing long kept them from joining the ruling class. But, Shaw traces how the simultaneous arrival of enslaved Africans complicated those social standings, while also helping to simplify them at a later date. In the process, her study injects new life into the question of racial ideology in the British Americas, as well as the role and influence of religion in the Anglo-Caribbean.