Students, academics, Dominicans and supporters of Papillote Press were at the Institute of the Americas, University College London, recently to launch Your Time is Done Now. Slavery, Resistance and Defeat: the Maroon Trials of Dominica 1813-1814 (published by Papillote Press). The book, just out in the UK, will be published by Monthly Review Press in the United States and Canada later this year.
The talk at the launch by editor and publisher Polly Pattullo is now available as a podcast http://www.ucl.ac.uk/americas/events/podcasts-uclia The audience heard that the power of the Maroons of Dominica (“an imperium in imperio”, according to the British colonial governor George Ainslie) was defeated by Ainslie’s policies who had the Maroons and their allies on the estates captured and tried under martial law. Ainslie was eventually sacked but not before the power of the Maroons had been broken. Some Maroons had been in the rainforests of Dominica for nearly 50 years.
The talk was accompanied by extracts from the book read by two Dominicans: Kathy MacLean, teacher and granddaughter of the distinguished Dominican Garveyite JJ Ralph Casimir, and the Rev Hewlette Andrew, teacher, Methodist preacher and activist in London. The event was chaired by Professor Gad Heuman, editor of Slavery & Abolition.
“So much history lies hidden in libraries and archives and it takes a committed researcher and publisher like Polly Pattullo to dig it out and make it publicly available,” said researcher Annie Davies, who was at the launch. “The archive material in this book will become essential reading to all those interested in the Dominica of the 18th and 19th centuries. Polly Pattullo gave an animated and fascinating talk which summarised the story of Dominica’s Maroons. As the Rev Andrew said, ‘The book is confirmation that the heroic struggle of the Maroons was by no means confined to Jamaica but happened across the Caribbean, even in the smallest islands.’ Your Time Is Done Now exposes a pivotal event in Dominica’s history.”
Dr Kate Quinn of the Institute of the Americas, said: “This presentation vividly brought to life the fascinating story of the Dominica Maroons, using little known sources to bring a deeper understanding to colonialism, slave resistance and accommodation, and the everyday lives of the Maroons. However filtered, the voices of the protagonists shine through the colonial documents. They demand to be heard.”
Professor Gad Heuman, editor of Slavery & Abolition, said, “This was a fascinating book launch. Apart from the excellent wine and nibbles, there were superb readings from the book that dramatised Maroon society in Dominica, the Maroons’ resistance and their ultimate defeat at the hands of the British colonial authorities.”
After the talk, there were drinks (thanks to the Institute of the Americas) and codfish balls (the latter as a reminder that saltfish was one of the key ingredients exchanged by the enslaved on the estates). There was, sadly, no wahwah on the menu – the wild yam that helped keep the Maroons alive in the forest and functioned as a currency to be exchanged for saltfish, tobacco, guns with the enslaved on the estates.
Your Time Is Done Now can be ordered online or from bookshops in the UK for £9.99 (paperback), and from October in North America (hardback $89 and paperback $23). See Papillote Press website: www.papillotepress.co.uk