Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit by Kristen BlockOrdinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit by Kristen Block

Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit

byKristen Block

Paperback | June 1, 2012

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Kristen Block examines the entangled histories of Spain and England in the Caribbean during the long seventeenth century, focusing on colonialism's two main goals: the search for profit and the call to Christian dominance.

Using the stories of ordinary people, Block illustrates how engaging with the powerful rhetoric and rituals of Christianity was central to survival. Isobel Criolla was a runaway slave in Cartagena who successfully lobbied the Spanish governor not to return her to an abusive mistress. Nicolas Burundel was a French Calvinist who served as henchman to the Spanish governor of Jamaica before his arrest by the Inquisition for heresy. Henry Whistler was an English sailor sent to the Caribbean under Oliver Cromwell's plan for holy war against Catholic Spain. Yaff and Nell were slaves who served a Quaker plantation owner, Lewis Morris, in Barbados. Seen from their on-the-ground perspective, the development of modern capitalism, race, and Christianity emerges as a story of negotiation, contingency, humanity, and the quest for community.

Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean works in both a comparative and an integrative Atlantic world frame, drawing on archival sources from Spain, England, Barbados, Colombia, and the United States. It pushes the boundaries of how historians read silences in the archive, asking difficult questions about how self-censorship, anxiety, and shame have shaped the historical record. The book also encourages readers to expand their concept of religious history beyond a focus on theology, ideals, and pious exemplars to examine the communal efforts of pirates, smugglers, slaves, and adventurers who together shaped the Caribbean's emerging moral economy.

Kristen Block is an assistant professor of history at Florida Atlantic University.
Title:Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of ProfitFormat:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6.05 × 0.8 inPublished:June 1, 2012Publisher:University of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820338680

ISBN - 13:9780820338682

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Table of Contents


PART I: Isabel
"If Her Soul Was Condemned, It Would Be the Authorities' Fault"

1. Contesting the Boundaries of Antichristian Cruelty in Cartagena de Indias
2. Imperial Intercession and Master-Slave Relations in Spanish Caribbean Hinterlands
3. Law, Religion, Social Contract, and Slavery's Daily Negotiations

PART II: Nicolas
"To Live and Die as a Catholic Christian"

4. Northern European Protestants in the Spanish Caribbean
5. Empire, Bureaucracy, and Escaping the Spanish Inquisition
6. Conversion, Coercion, and Tolerance in Old and New Worlds

"Such as will truck for Trade with darksome things"

7. Cromwellian Political Economy and the Pursuit of New World Promise
8. Plunder, Masculinity and the Politics of Economic Exclusion
9. Anxieties of Interracial Alliances, Black Resistance, and the Specter of Slavery

PART IV: Yaff & Nell:
"He hath made all Nations of one Blood"

10. Quakers, Slavery, and the Challenges of Radical Universalism
11. Evangelization and Insubordination: Authority and Stability in Quaker Plantations
12. The Protestant Ethic and the Society of Friends' Ambiguous Caribbean Legacy

CONCLUSION: Cynicism and Redemption

13. Religion, Empire and the Atlantic Moral Economy at the Turn of the 18th century

Editorial Reviews

In this innovative work, Kristen Block uses the life stories of a handful of individuals to create an entry into the religious realm of the early Caribbean. . . . Individual experience is commonly complex, flawed, and contradictory, as wonderfully exemplified by the people brought to life in Block's excellent book.

- B. W. Higman - American Historical Review