Unsilencing Slavery

Telling Truths About Rose Hall Plantation, Jamaica

Title Details

Illustrations: 21 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 07/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6214-4

List Price: $114.95


Pub Date: 07/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6215-1

List Price: $29.95

Unsilencing Slavery

Telling Truths About Rose Hall Plantation, Jamaica

A microhistory of enslaved people's experiences at Rose Hall and an exploration of the complexities of its past in the present

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Popular references to the Rose Hall Great House in Jamaica often focus on the legend of the "White Witch of Rose Hall." Over one hundred thousand people visit this plantation every year, many hoping to catch a glimpse of Annie Palmer's ghost. After experiencing this tour with her daughter in 2013 and leaving Jamaica haunted by the silences of the tour, Celia E. Naylor resolved to write a history of Rose Hall about those people who actually had a right to haunt this place of terror and trauma-the enslaved. Naylor deftly guides us through a strikingly different Rose Hall. She introduces readers to the silences of the archives and unearths the names and experiences of the enslaved at Rose Hall in the decades immediately before the abolition of slavery in Jamaica. She then offers a careful reading of Herbert G. de Lisser's 1929 novel, The White Witch of Rosehall-which gave rise to the myth of the "White Witch"-and a critical analysis of the current tours at Rose Hall Great House.

Naylor's interdisciplinary examination engages different modes of history making, history telling, and truth telling to excavate the lives of enslaved people, highlighting enslaved women as they navigated the violences of the Jamaican slavocracy and plantationscape. Moving beyond the legend, she examines iterations of the afterlives of slavery in the ongoing construction of slavery museums, memorializations, and movements for Black lives and the enduring case for Black humanity. Alongside her book, she has created a website as another way for readers to explore the truths of Rose Hall: rosehallproject.columbia.edu.

An impressively ambitious interdisciplinary work.

—Simon Newman, author of A New World of Labor: The Development of Plantation Slavery in the British Atlantic

Ranging from the nineteenth century to the present day, Unsilencing Slavery offers a much-needed reassessment of Rose Hall Plantation in Jamaica and the myths and historical silences that pervade this popular tourist destination. Her focus is on the forgotten history and experiences of the many enslaved people-particularly enslaved women and children-who lived and died at Rose Hall Plantation. Naylor blends detailed archival research, literary analysis, and public history to explore how Rose Hall and other former Caribbean and American plantation sites have been transformed into sanitized spaces of amusement and historical erasure.

—Brooke Newman, author of Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

About the Author/Editor

CELIA E. NAYLOR is a professor in the Africana Studies and History departments at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Naylor currently lives in New York City.