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Travel Guide 2   >   Barbados   >   History

   
 

Barbadian History


The first people to reach Barbados are believed to have been farmers and fishermen who arrived by canoe from South America, in approximately 350 AD. There are also known to have been at least two other subsequent waves of immigration from South America prior to the arrival of Europeans: Arawak people from at approximately 800 AD, and Caribs at around 1200 AD.

The first Europeans to reach the island were the Portuguese, who gave Barbados its name, which means "island of the bearded ones" - although it is not known whether "bearded" referred to island's inhabitants or some aspect of the natural landscape. The Portuguese soon conquered the islands, enslaved the indigenous people, and deported them to work on plantations in other Portuguese colonies.

The first English landing in Barbados took place in 1620, when Captain Cataline made a brief stop to collect water. A permanent landing followed in 1625, led by Captain Henry Powell of the ship Olive Blossom, in the area that is today Holetown. When the English arrived in Barbados, there were no indigenous inhabitants left on the islands, and little trace of them either. One of the few signs that the islands hand been inhabited before was a wooden bridge (which became known as "Indian Bridge"), at the site of what has subsequently become Bridgetown.

For the nearly 350 years, Barbados remained a British colony, finally gaining its independence on November 30th 1966. Barbados remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, although there are proposals to make the country into a republic. Barbados is also a founding member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Here are some books about the history of Barbados:


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Books about Barbadian History


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The First Black Slave Society: Britain's "Barbarity Time" in Barbados, 1636-1876

By Hilary McD. Beckles

The University of the West Indies Press
Paperback (320 pages)

The First Black Slave Society: Britain s "Barbarity Time" in Barbados, 1636-1876
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In this remarkable exploration of the brutal course of Barbados’s history, Hilary McD. Beckles details the systematic barbarism of the British colonial project. Trade in enslaved Africans was not new in the Americas in the seventeenth century – the Portuguese and Spanish had commercialized chattel slavery in Brazil and Cuba in the 1500s – but in Barbados, the practice of slavery reached its apotheosis.

Barbados was the birthplace of British slave society and the most ruthlessly colonized. The geography of Barbados was ideally suited to sugar plantations and there were enormous fortunes to be made for British royalty and ruling elites from sugar produced by an enslaved, “disposable” workforce, fortunes that secured Britain’s place as an imperial superpower. The inhumane legacy of plantation society has shaped modern Barbados and this history must be fully understood by the inheritors on both sides of the power dynamic before real change and reparatory justice can take place.

A prequel to Beckles’s equally compelling Britain’s Black Debt, The First Black Slave Society: Britain’s “Barbarity Time” in Barbados, 1636–1876 is essential reading for anyone interested in Atlantic history, slavery and the plantation system, and modern race relations.

More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness, and the Making of an African Republic

By Caree A. Banton

Cambridge University Press
Released: 2019-05-23
Hardcover (382 pages)

More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness, and the Making of an African Republic
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More Auspicious Shores chronicles the migration of Afro-Barbadians to Liberia. In 1865, 346 Afro-Barbadians fled a failed post-emancipation Caribbean for the independent black republic of Liberia. They saw Liberia as a means of achieving their post-emancipation goals and promoting a pan-Africanist agenda while simultaneously fulfilling their 'civilizing' and 'Christianizing' duties. Through a close examination of the Afro-Barbadians, Caree A. Banton provides a transatlantic approach to understanding the political and sociocultural consequences of their migration and settlement in Africa. Banton reveals how, as former British subjects, Afro-Barbadians navigated an inherent tension between ideas of pan-Africanism and colonial superiority. Upon their arrival in Liberia, an English imperial identity distinguished the Barbadians from African Americans and secured them privileges in the Republic's hierarchy above the other group. By fracturing assumptions of a homogeneous black identity, Banton ultimately demonstrates how Afro-Barbadian settlement in Liberia influenced ideas of blackness in the Atlantic World.

Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society (Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory)

By Matthew C. Reilly

University Alabama Press
Hardcover (272 pages)

Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society (Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory)
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First book-length archaeological study of a nonelite white population on a Caribbean plantation

Archaeology below the Cliff: Race, Class, and Redlegs in Barbadian Sugar Society is the first archaeological study of the poor whites of Barbados, the descendants of seventeenth-century European indentured servants and small farmers. “Redlegs” is a pejorative to describe the marginalized group who remained after the island transitioned to a sugar monoculture economy dependent on the labor of enslaved Africans. A sizable portion of the “white” minority, the Redlegs largely existed on the peripheries of the plantation landscape in an area called “Below Cliff,” which was deemed unsuitable for profitable agricultural production. Just as the land on which they resided was cast as marginal, so too have the poor whites historically and contemporarily been derided as peripheral and isolated as well as idle, alcoholic, degenerate, inbred, and irrelevant to a functional island society and economy.

Using archaeological, historical, and oral sources, Matthew C. Reilly shows how the precarious existence of the Barbadian Redlegs challenged elite hypercapitalistic notions of economics, race, and class as they were developing in colonial society. Experiencing pronounced economic hardship, similar to that of the enslaved, albeit under very different circumstances, Barbadian Redlegs developed strategies to live in a harsh environment. Reilly’s investigations reveal that what developed in Below Cliff was a moral economy, based on community needs rather than free-market prices.

Reilly extensively excavated households from the tenantry area on the boundaries of the Clifton Hall Plantation, which was abandoned in the 1960s, to explore the daily lives of poor white tenants and investigate their relationships with island economic processes and networks. Despite misconceptions of strict racial isolation, evidence also highlights the importance of poor white encounters and relationships with Afro-Barbadians. Historical data are also incorporated to address how an underrepresented demographic experienced the plantation landscape. Ultimately, Reilly’s narrative situates the Redlegs within island history, privileging inclusion and embeddedness over exclusion and isolation.
 

Not Only Am I a Princess I'm Bajan Too: Cute Barbadian Girl Notebook/Journal (6 X 9)

By Karen Prints

Independently published
Paperback (120 pages)

Not Only Am I a Princess I m Bajan Too: Cute Barbadian Girl Notebook/Journal (6 X 9)
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This cool novelty blank lined journal will make the perfect gift for the boy or girl who loves to take notes, jot down their innermost thoughts, or write songs, poems and ideas

  • 120 Pages High Quality Paper 
  • 6” x 9” Paperback notebook
  • Soft Matte Cover
  • Great size to carry in your back, for work, school or in meetings
  • Useful as a journal, notebook or composition book 
  • Cool birthday, christmas and anniversary gift

Barbados Bu'n-Bu'n: My Culinary Adventure: Volume I

By Rosemary Parkinson

Rosemary Parkinson
Released: 2016-12-05
Kindle Edition (175 pages)

Barbados Bu n-Bu n: My Culinary Adventure: Volume I
 
Product Description:
This 4-volumed book divided into the 11 parishes of the island, Barbados Bu'n-Bu'n, takes one on a culinary ride of this gem of the Caribbean. From history, culture and tradition to meeting the people from all walks of life; the book tells their stories, both fun and educational, accompanied by stunning photography and recipes.

Volume I, starts with an introduction to the island, and moves into the first parish on the journey; Christ Church.

Winner of Gourmand's World Cookbook Awards:
For Barbados: Best Photography, Best Design, Best Historic Recipes, Best Self-Published Book (2014)
Internationally: Gold - Best Self-Published Book in the World (China 2015)

“Experience the tropical beauty and tastes of this very special region through the books of Rosemary Parkinson. Her book Culinaria: The Caribbean is the one and only book to Caribbean cooking; her Nyam Jamaica is a comprehensive taste of one of the world’s finest cuisines.” Chef Art Smith (until 2007 personal chef to Oprah Winfrey) award-winning author, restaurateur, contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine and founder of the non-profit charity Common Threads that brings low-income families together through food and art.

“Barbados Bu’n-Bu’n - book of satisfaction, good taste, images between the lines from kitchen to heart. Rosemary does it again.” Lennox Raphael, playwright, author, poet and artist.

“Rosie Parkinson does not just produce cookbooks. Since the beginning of the 21st Century, she has chronicled in Caribbean Culinaria and Nyam Jamaica how the culture of foods in the Caribbean has become Caribbean Cuisine - marinated for over 300 years in the pots of villages, the boucans of the forests and sandy beaches aromatized by the bushes of the land. These tomes are filled with mouth-watering photographs of food produced by the descendants of migrants from Europe, Africa, India, China and the Middle East combined with the ancient practices of the indigenous Amerindian people. Now there’s Barbados Bu’n-Bu’n. Look. Read. Try. The after-taste is tantalizingly unbelievable.” Baba Elombe Mottley, author & activist.

“Bu’n-Bu’n is an incredible journey...with Rosemary’s inimitable prose, observations, human interest stories and photographs. Exquisite...!” Dr Karl Watson, historian & author.

“To say that I was blown away is an understatement and I am still bursting with excitement, Barbados Bu’n-Bu’n literally packages by illustration Barbados’ cultural identity. This book is indeed a national treasure.” Beverley Alleyne, Senior Business Development Officer, Barbados Investment & Development Corporation.

Tell My Mother I Gone To Cuba: Stories of Early Twentieth-Century Migration from Barbados

By Sharon Milagro Marshall

Ingramcontent
Paperback (236 pages)

Tell My Mother I Gone To Cuba: Stories of Early Twentieth-Century Migration from Barbados
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  • Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba Stories of Early Twentieth Century Migration from Barbados
Product Description:
2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist

Barbadians were among the thousands of British West Indians who migrated to Cuba in the early twentieth century in search of work. They were drawn there by employment opportunities fuelled largely by US investment in Cuban sugar plantations. Tell My Mother I Gone to Cuba: Stories of Early Twentieth-Century Migration from Barbados is their story. The migrants were citizens of the British Empire, and their ill-treatment in Cuba led to a diplomatic tiff between British and Cuban authorities. The author draws from contemporary newspaper articles, official records, journals and books to set the historical contexts which initiated this intra-Caribbean migratory wave. Through oral histories, it also gives voice to the migrants' compelling narratives of their experience in Cuba. One of the oral histories recorded in the book is that of the author's mother, who was born in Cuba of Barbadian parents.

The Barbadian Rum Shop: The Other Watering Hole

By Peter Laurie

Macmillan Caribbean
Paperback (134 pages)

The Barbadian Rum Shop: The Other Watering Hole
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There are about a thousand rum shops in Barbados. "The Barbadian Rum Shop" has a dual purpose: to document these special watering holes in photographs and to provide a historical and cultural background to a unique Barbadian institution. It should also encourage Barbadians and visitors alike to experience first hand the exuberant and authentic atmosphere of the Barbadian rum shop.The first section of the book is the fascinating story of rum: where it began, how it is made and the many ways you can drink it. The second gives an insight into the brewing of Barbados' prize-winning beer, Banks - probably the most consumed drink in the rum shop! The third section is a brief social history of the rum shop that shows how this peculiar Barbadian combination of bar and grocery evolved into what it is today. Finally, and most importantly, are featured some of those special rum shops that the reader will find more than worth a visit, as much for the tasty food as the refreshing drink.This is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated guide to a unique Caribbean institution which rum lovers all over the world are sure to enjoy.

Absolutely Barbados: One Man's Mission to Discover the Heart and Soul of a Caribbean Paradise

By Julian Armfield

Miller Publishing Company Limited
Released: 2015-05-31
Kindle Edition (198 pages)

Absolutely Barbados: One Man s Mission to Discover the Heart and Soul of a Caribbean Paradise
 
Product Description:
Author and BBC broadcaster Julian Armfield came to Barbados for ten days, met and married a Bajan beauty, and stayed forever. He quickly discovered that life on a vibrant Caribbean island was going to be hugely different to that in a sleepy English village. Narrated in an infectious upbeat rhythm, Absolutely Barbados follows the fiercely curious author around the island as he explores and embraces every aspect of Barbados’ lifestyle, culture and heritage, meeting a host of beguiling characters along the way. Julian’s compelling story will enchant, amuse and enlighten anyone who lives in Barbados, Bajans abroad and all those who come to visit either on holiday or to work on this gem of the Caribbean Sea.

Armfield said: “I was fascinated by the challenge of an outsider becoming an insider and now feel that I am almost a Bajan myself. My hope is that Absolutely Barbados will serve as a reminder to readers of why we all love Barbados so much and bring a smile to people’s faces. The book is pitched at Bajans living here and abroad, visitors and newcomers who come here to work.”

The Barbados Cookbook

By Peggy, and jill Hamilton Sworder

Barbados Military Cemetery Association, Barbados
Spiral-bound

The Barbados Cookbook
 

The history of Barbados: comprising a geographical and statistical description of the island; a sketch of the historical events since the settlement; and an account of its geology and natural product

By Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk

Released: 2014-04-05
Kindle Edition (861 pages)

The history of Barbados: comprising a geographical and statistical description of the island; a sketch of the historical events since the settlement; and an account of its geology and natural product
 
Product Description:
The history of Barbados comprising a geographical and statistical description of the island; a sketch of the historical events since the settlement; and an account of its geology and natural productions. 716 Pages


 
 
 

 
 
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