Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society

TitleCentering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsBeckles, Hilary McD.
Number of Pages211
PublisherIan Randle Publishers
CityKingston, Jamaica

Caribbean women – black, white and brown, free and enslaved, migrants and creoles, rich and poor – are assembled in this book and their lives examined as they battled both against male domination and among themselves for social advantage. Females challenged each other for monopoly access to and use of terms such as ‘woman’ and ‘feminine’ in the process widening the existing social and ethnic divisions among themselves, and thus fragmenting their collective search for autonomy. The author uses the method of narrative biography with its appealing sense of immediacy of women’s language, script and social politics, to expose the gender order of Caribbean slave society as it determined and defined the everyday lives of women. He also seeks to explore the effectiveness of women’s actions as they searched for freedom, material betterment, justice and social security. Understanding how gender is socially determined, understood and lived serves to illuminate why and how some women subscribed to the institutional culture of patriarchy while others launched discreet missions of self-empowerment and collective liberation. This book is about feminism in action, not theorized by post-modern radicals, but by women who actively sought to create spaces and build structures within self-conceived visions of social advancement.

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