The Association of Caribbean Historians (ACH) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Elsa Goveia Book Prize in recognition of excellence in the field of Caribbean history, Vincent Brown for his latest book entitled Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Harvard University Press, 2020).
After receiving 42 submissions for the 2021 Elsa Goveia Prize the Committee, comprising Randy Browne (Chair), Chelsea Schields and Dannelle Gutarra Cordero, was in unanimous agreement about this award, and announced its decision at the ACH Annual Conference (June 6-11, 2021) which was hosted online by the Société d’histoire de la Guadeloupe. The prize is named for renowned Caribbean historian Elsa Goveia (1925-80).
The following extract of the citation was read during our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 11:
Tacky’s Revolt is a groundbreaking interpretation of the eponymous 1760-61 Jamaican rebellion and a landmark contribution to Caribbean history. Writing at the intersection of histories of Jamaican slavery, British imperialism, West African warfare, and the transatlantic slave trade, Brown offers a truly diasporic military history. He convincingly argues that we should view Tacky’s Revolt—as well as the many rebellions that preceded and followed it—as the participants did, that is, as acts of war in which African actors engaged as rebels. Centering the rebels themselves and taking seriously their previous experiences in West Africa, especially as soldiers, Brown reframes a rebellion commonly seen as a Jamaican episode in the Seven Years’ War as a new phase of wars that began on the Gold Coast of Africa and took on new contours in the context of racialized Caribbean slavery. Throughout the book, Brown deftly moves between different scales of analysis, balancing intimate stories of people such as rebel leader Apongo with a sophisticated understanding of broader transatlantic and imperial dynamics. Yet even as Brown tells a transatlantic story that takes us from Gold Coast polities to British naval ships crossing the Atlantic, Tacky’s Revolt remains firmly grounded in Jamaica. Brown’s deep knowledge of and sensitivity to the island’s topography—displayed in dozens of carefully constructed maps—allows him to show how Jamaica’s physical environment shaped the tactics and political imaginaries of the rebels and their adversaries. Vividly narrated, painstakingly researched, and beautifully written, Tacky’s Revolt is a gripping account of one of the most impactful rebellions in Caribbean history. As a story of struggle—or war—against racialized slavery and terror that spans continents, empires, and generations, it is a tale of enduring relevance.
In addition to the prize being awarded to Vincent Brown, the Committee recommended two additional books for special mention: Caree Banton, More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness and the Making of an African Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Sharika Crawford, The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation and Boundary Making (UNC Press, 2020).
For more information, see https://associationofcaribbeanhistorians.org/prizes-fellowships/
For more information on the winning publication, please visit https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674737570
Many thanks to Peter Jordens for additional information; also see https://www.facebook.com/AssociationofCaribbeanHistorians