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Title page for ETD etd-07012013-132839


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Banton, Caree Ann Marie
URN etd-07012013-132839
Title "More auspicious shores": post-emancipation Barbadian emigrants in pursuit of freedom, citizenship, and nationhood in Liberia, 1834-1912
Degree PhD
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard Blackett Committee Chair
Jane Landers Committee Member
Jemima Pierre Committee Member
Moses Ochonu Committee Member
Keywords
  • Liberia Colonization
  • Pan-Africanism
  • African Diaspora
  • American Colonization Society
  • Caribbean Post-emancipation
  • Barbados Emigration
Date of Defense 2013-06-04
Availability restricted
Abstract
This dissertation is a transatlantic story of Caribbean post-emancipation centered on the experiences of approximately fifty Afro-Barbadian families (346 people) who emigrated to Liberia in 1865. At the outset, it explores the political and institutional processes that reshaped post-emancipation societies such as Barbados, particularly highlighting restrictions and barriers that conspired to sustain un-freedom, maintain landlessness, and disenfranchisement for Afro-Barbadians. To this end, the dissertation examines issues surrounding land acquisition, wage and labor negotiations, and the attainment of civil and political rights, all of which figured to varying degrees into Afro-Barbadian’s sense of place and prospects for a future in the Caribbean. Failure to realize post-slavery goals after thirty years of freedom in Barbados and inadequate means of making their voices heard fostered a sense of stagnation that factored in their gloomy view of a future in the Caribbean.

The dissertation then follows the Barbadians across the Atlantic into Liberia. This changing socio-political environment and their collision with African re-captives, African Americans, and Native Liberians in the Liberian nation building project affected changes in the Barbadians' experience of post-emancipation in multiple ways. On this side of the Atlantic, there were opportunities for meaningful and mutually beneficial interactions between the various groups of blacks. However, tensions inevitably arose as different ideas about freedom, citizenship, and nationhood converged as well as blurred and transformed across space and time. While diasporic blacks had returned to the motherland with their African identities at the forefront, it was rather their diasporic identities that took preeminence in their lives. Whereas in the diaspora the migrants had sought to repair the rupture and fragmentation of slavery and exploitation by collectivizing the multiple nodes of diasporic experience and centering Africa as their motherland, their convergence in Liberia instead created a new milieu in which intra-racial and ethnic identity and difference would be nurtured. The notion of a collective black identity would further be destabilized in the era of the 'Scramble for Africa' where British intrusion in Liberia caused Americo-Liberians to be suspicious about the British backgrounds of the West Indians. This ultimately exposed the vicissitudes of what was previously believed to be a collective black identity. Bringing together Caribbean post-emancipation and Liberian colonization history into such as transatlantic and diasporic framework thus shows the changing and diverging nature of black experiences and reshapes conceptual and theoretical boundaries that continue to inform our understandings of Africans and diasporic blacks.

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