Gender and the moral economy
in Empire and nation-building in the Caribbean
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Rural workers in Barbados, particularly women, were vulnerable to the vagaries of the planters at the micro level and the world market at a macro level. Farming was almost exclusively carried out by women in Barbados and it was also favored by them as it enabled them to earn more and fitted well into their household routine. Sugar was the preferred crop whereas a pig, or other stock, was equally viable investment as they were not dependent on seasons. Other avenues such as domestic service or home-based industries such as huckstering, sewing and straw plaiting were also open for the females whereas for males, migration was the only alternative to the sugar plantations. The moral economy in Barbados was premised on the right to subsistence and it led to a range of social adjustments based on the values of solidarity and communitarianism, which later on became the cornerstone of the nation. These values also provided an alternative model of citizenship to that proposed by the colonial authorities and metamorphosed into duties for those further up the social hierarchy.




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