A post by Peter Jordens.
2014 Elsa Goveia Memorial Lecture
Small Charges: Law and the Regulation of Conduct In the Post-Slavery Caribbean
Dr. Diana Paton, Reader in Caribbean History, Newcastle University
The Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
In the aftermath of emancipation, states across the British-colonised Caribbean passed laws regulating ‘vagrancy’, whose provisions were often incorporated into summary justice or ‘small charges’ laws, many of which remain in force. These laws have traditionally been interpreted as means to coerce labor and to limit mobility. While such purposes were certainly an important part of legislators’ intentions, vagrancy and other summary jurisdiction laws had a much more extensive role. They were also about the regulation of conduct, particularly gendered conduct, and the shaping of a particular form of person. The coercion and regulation of labor was intimately linked to broader regulation of behaviors. The legacy of such legislation is found today across the Caribbean in laws which have recently come under challenge, including provisions against obeah and cross-dressing. This lecture will explore the historical context and uses of ‘small charges’ laws in the years after slavery, arguing that their function involved the regulation of the body, sexuality, gender, religious expression and the use of space.
For more information, contact Camillia Clarke Brown at email@example.com or telephone 927-1922 or 935-8395.