Book Review “The Creole Archipelago. Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean”

Douglas Hamilton, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom


Over the last half century, a voluminous literature has emerged on the history of the seventeenth and, especially, of the eighteenth-century Caribbean. No longer considered simply as ‘slaves,’ enslaved Africans are now central to narratives that explore their complex lives, cultures, and modes of resistance. Likewise, the enslavers (the planters, merchants, and politicians responsible for colonizing the islands of the Caribbean) appear in ever more nuanced ways. Indigenous populations – referred to as Kalinago in this important new study – on the other hand, have tended to be overlooked in historical analyses of empires, enslavement, and emancipation as Melanie Newton has noted (5-6). At the same time, Caribbean historiography – particularly in its anglophone mode – often focuses either on islands in the Greater Antilles (like Jamaica) or those colonized in the early years of European settlement (like Barbados). Yet, the experiences of people across the Caribbean varied: what happened in Jamaica or St Domingue does not always reflect very well experiences in other islands or colonies. In her vital new book, Tessa Murphy reverses those twin trends by placing Kalinago people at the heart of her study of the small islands in the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles.

Download a pdf of the complete article here.