Enterprising Women

Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Title Details

Pages: 256

Trim size: 152.400mm x 228.600mm

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 03/15/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5387-6

List Price: $26.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 01/15/2015

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4455-3

List Price: $49.95

eBook

Pub Date: 01/15/2015

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4779-0

List Price: $49.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Library Company of Philadelphia

Enterprising Women

Gender, Race, and Power in the Revolutionary Atlantic

Recovered histories of entrepreneurial women of color from the colonial Caribbean

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  • Description
  • Reviews

In the Caribbean colony of Grenada in 1797, Dorothy Thomas signed the manumission documents for her elderly slave Betty. Thomas owned dozens of slaves and was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would make her the richest black resident in the nearby colony of Demerara. What made the transaction notable was that Betty was Dorothy Thomas's mother and that fifteen years earlier Dorothy had purchased her own freedom and that of her children. Although she was just one remove from bondage, Dorothy Thomas managed to become so rich and powerful that she was known as the Queen of Demerara.

Dorothy Thomas's story is but one of the remarkable acounts of pluck and courage recovered in Enterprising Women. As the microbiographies in this book reveal, free women of color in Britain's Caribbean colonies were not merely the dependent concubines of the white male elite, as is commonly assumed. In the capricious world of the slave colonies during the age of revolutions, some of them were able to rise to dizzying heights of success. These highly entrepreneurial women exercised remarkable mobility and developed extensive commercial and kinship connections in the metropolitan heart of empire while raising well-educated children who were able to penetrate deep into British life.

Enterprising Women is not only a good and illuminating read but a potentially pathbreaking book. Candlin and Pybus have produced a book that charts new territory in the study of free women of color in the South Caribbean.

—Sylvia R. Frey, author of The British Soldier in America: A Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period

Candlin and Pybus seek to 'unsettle easy assumptions about race, about gender, and about power' and they have succeeded on all counts. In contrast to masculine-centered histories of the Southern Caribbean, Enterprising Women is a hard-hitting study of an intrepid group of free women of color. The authors turn upside down the familiar trope of free women of color as often marginalized figures. Indeed, their close study of long-term relationships of free women of color with white men leads to some of their most arresting and original insights, and their heroic tracking of the descendants of the free women of color over several generations opens up the Atlantic history of race from several distinct and important perspectives. This is a challenging but deeply ramifying work.

—Richard S. Newman, author of The Transformation of American Abolitionism: Fighting Slavery in the Early Republic

Enterprising Women offers a vital reassessment of the relationship among gender, race and power in the Atlantic World.

—Danielle Skeehan, Journal of American History

About the Author/Editor

Kit Candlin (Author)
KIT CANDLIN is a research fellow in history at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Last Caribbean Frontier, 1795-1815.

Cassandra Pybus (Author)
CASSANDRA PYBUS is a professor of history at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty and Black Founders: The Unknown Story of Australia's First Black Settlers.