This chapter is concerned with the islands, and parts of the mainland, which were colonised by the British from the early seventeenth century and named as the British West Indies. The British West Indian colonies formed a link between North and South America and were strategically vital to the European powers. The task of the West India interest was to lobby the government and counter the abolitionists. The naming of black regiments as West Indian fractured the prevailing image of West Indian as signifying an exclusively white identity. Emancipation marked a critical break in ideas about the West Indian. James Anthony Froude's return to an insistence on white West Indians as ‘part of ourselves’ provides an endpoint to the preliminary charting of the shifting meanings of West Indian. Furthermore, the idea of West Indian is part of an older tradition of both colonial and anti-colonial thought.
This chapter, unlike most writing on Anthony Trollope, focuses on his travel books rather than his fiction (the forty-seven novels). Trollope's travel writing, and indeed his travels, was focused on the Empire. For Trollope the Empire was central to Englishness, part of what was special about the Anglo-Saxon race. Racial difference was part of the everyday life of Victorian men and women. Trollope's mapping of imperial places and peoples, embedded in familiar language and images, brought Maori 'cannibals', Jamaican 'Quashees' and energetic white Australian settlers right into the parlour. Trollope's mapping of the 'races' was linked with a vision of empire, which drew on both the liberal political economy of a figure such as Herman Merivale and the enraged conservatism of Thomas Carlyle. For Trollope a clear gender order with bread-winning husband and father and domesticated wife and mother was a necessary base for a good colonial life.
Slavery and the slavery business have cast a long shadow over British history. In 1833, abolition was heralded as evidence of Britain's claim to be themodern global power, its commitment to representative government in Britain, free labour, the rule of law, and a benevolent imperial mission all aspects of a national identity rooted in notions of freedom and liberty. Yet much is still unknown about the significance of the slavery, slave-ownership and emancipation in the formation of modern imperial Britain. This essays in this book explore fundamental issues including the economic impact of slavery and slave-ownership, the varied forms of labour deployed in the imperial world, including hired slaves and indentured labourers, the development of the C19th imperial state, slavery and public and family history, and contemporary debates about reparations. The contributors, drawn from Britain, the Caribbean and Mauritius, include some of the most distinguished writers in the field: Clare Anderson, Robin Blackburn, Heather Cateau, Mary Chamberlain, Chris Evans, Pat Hudson, Richard Huzzey, Zoë Laidlaw, Alison Light, Anita Rupprecht, Verene A. Shepherd, Andrea Stuart and Vijaya Teelock. The impact of slavery and slave-ownership is once again becoming a major area of historical and contemporary concern: this book makes a vital contribution to the subject.
The introduction frames the contributions on the importance of slavery and slave-ownership in the re-making of the British imperial world after abolition in 1833 by posing a number of key questions: What was the character of the British imperial state in the wake of 1833?; What happened to the merchants and planters who had been central to the West Indian economy and to the culture they had elaborated?; What new forms of unfree labour emerged across the British Empire?; How can academic historians engage with the museums, family and local historians who have made critical contributions to the understanding of slavery and its legacies?; What are the issues around history, reparations and restitution in the present?