How Britain Underdeveloped the Caribbean: A Reparation Response to Europe’s Legacy of Plunder and Poverty by Sir Hilary Beckles was published by the University of the West Indies Press in November 2021. The book will be launched by the UWI Press in Spring 2022.
Description: “The modern Caribbean economy was invented, structured and managed by European states for one purpose: to achieve maximum wealth extraction to fuel and sustain their national financial, commercial and industrial transformation.” So begins How Britain Underdeveloped the Caribbean: A Reparation Response to Europe’s Legacy of Plunder and Poverty as Hilary McD. Beckles continues the groundbreaking work he began in Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide.
We are now in a time of global reckoning for centuries of crimes against humanity perpetrated by European colonial powers as they built their empires with the wealth extracted from the territories they occupied and exploited with enslaved and, later, indentured labour. The systematic brutality of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and the plantation economies did not disappear with the abolition of slavery. Rather, the means of exploitation were reconfigured to ensure that wealth continued to flow to European states.
Independence from colonial powers in the twentieth century did not mean real freedom for the Caribbean nations, left as they were without the resources for meaningful development and in a state of persistent poverty. Beckles focuses his attention on the British Empire and shows how successive governments have systematically suppressed economic development in their former colonies and have refused to accept responsibility for the debt and development support they owe the Caribbean.
Hilary McD. Beckles is Professor of Economic and Social History and Vice-Chancellor, the University of the West Indies. His many publications include The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s “Barbarity Time” in Barbados, 1636–1876; Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide; A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Caribbean Single Market and Economy; Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados, 1636–1834; and Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Societies.
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