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By Barbara Lewis Solow, Stanley L. Engerman

Sleek scholarship at the courting among British capitalism and Caribbean slavery has been profoundly stimulated via Eric Williams's 1944 vintage, Capitalism and Slavery. the current quantity represents the lawsuits of a convention on Caribbean Slavery and British Capitalism convened in his honour in 1984, and contains essays on Dr Williams's scholarly paintings and impact. those essays, by means of 13 students from the USA, England, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean, discover the connection among nice Britain and her plantation slave colonies within the Caribbean.

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Extra info for British Capitalism and Caribbean Slavery: The Legacy of Eric Williams

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Evans's widely read article was probably the most explicit and emphatic statement since Capitalism and Slavery of the proposition that racism was a product, not a cause, of Afro-American slavery. In reality, however, Williams's work on Virginia had not been well-informed. If it seemed vindicated in the 1980's it was the direction of his thinking, not the credibility of his argument, that had earned scholarly endorsement. Even in the direction of thinking, the Williams orientation to Virginia continues to present perplexing problems.

Britain's vaunted "civilizing mission" was but one expression of a profound and pervasive, though often subtle, sense of racial superiority. It had long been assumed that a causal link existed between the inferior heritage of Africans and their inferior status as slaves. Williams denied it. Racism, he declared, was a product of slavery. 6 By separating race from slavery, Williams hoped to undermine imperial legitimacy and discredit the historical support system that sustained contemporary race prejudice.

It was the psychological need of European immigrants, separated from the "security of home and isolated in an immense wilderness," to seek out the company of people most like themselves. The condition of servitude for blacks deteriorated for a simple practical reason. 16 This new scholarship consciously reinforced important claims of the civil rights movement. Slavery was neither necessary nor inevitable. Racism, its insidious product, was an acquired, not an inborn, prejudice. Blacks were victims of a downspiraling cycle of oppression and debasement in which slavery and prejudice had become mutually reinforcing.

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