Postemancipation Developments 1834–1865
The relationship between labor and space in Jamaica changed dramatically in the years between 1834 and 1865. Two developments in the 1830s radically changed the relationship between laborers and the planters, and encouraged the redefinition of social and material spaces throughout Jamaica. In 1834, slavery was abolished in the British West Indies. In that year, a new labor system, known as apprenticeship, replaced slavery. In 1838, the apprenticeship system was abolished in Jamaica, and the relationship between the African Jamaican population and the European elites entered a new phase, mediated by wage labor rather than the bonds of slavery. Jamaica’s transition to wage labor was marked by occasionally violent episodes of unrest. Among the most dramatic was the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865, an uprising that occurred in the shadow of Blue Mountain Peak and that would result in a complete restructuring of Jamaica’s government. In the wake of the Morant Bay Rebellion, the Jamaican legislature was suspended, and the affairs of the island brought under the direct control of the Westminster Parliament (Heuman, 1994). This episode is often used as a bracket within the historiography of Jamaica, and serves as the effective terminal point of this study.
KeywordsSocial Space Coffee Plantation Coffee Production Material Space Labor Power
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