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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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A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (Hackett Classics)

By Richard Ligon

imusti
Paperback (208 pages)

A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados (Hackett Classics)
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  • HACKETT
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Ligon's True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados is the most significant book-length English text written about the Caribbean in the seventeenth century. [It] allows one to see the contested process behind the making of the Caribbean sugar/African slavery complex. Kupperman is one of the leading scholars of the early modern Atlantic world. . . . I cannot think of any scholar better prepared to write an Introduction that places Ligon, his text, and Barbados in an Atlantic historical context. The Introduction is quite thorough, readable, and accurate; the notes [are] exemplary! --Susan Parrish, University of Michigan

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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“Barbados, the beautiful Caribbean island known for its social amiability and political civility, was the site of the first ‘black slave society’ – the most systemically violent, brutal and racially inhumane society of modernity. . . . The society has a distinct social character and cultural identity that are rooted in its slavery past. Public perceptions of the nation remain linked to the legacies of slavery. Once described by an economist as closest in the Caribbean to a model of the ‘pure plantation’, first to be reformatted as a black slave society, Barbados remains the last to loosen the political stranglehold of plantocracy.” 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.

In Plenty and in Time of Need: Popular Culture and the Remapping of Barbadian Identity (Critical Caribbean Studies)

By Lia T. Bascomb

Rutgers University Press
Released: 2019-12-13
Paperback (310 pages)

In Plenty and in Time of Need: Popular Culture and the Remapping of Barbadian Identity (Critical Caribbean Studies)
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In Plenty and in Time of Need demonstrates how the unique history of Barbados has contributed to complex relations of national, gendered, and sexual identities, and how these identities are represented and interpreted on a global stage. As the most widespread manifestation of social commentary, the book uses music and performance to analyze the competing ideals and realities of the national culture. It details the histories of prominent musical artists, including the prolific Pan-Africanist calypsonian the Mighty Gabby, the world renown Merrymen, Soca Queen Alison Hinds, artist/activist Rupee, and international superstar Rihanna. Using these artists, the project analyzes how femininity, masculinity, and sexuality are put in service of Barbadian nationalism. By examining websites, blogs, and digital products of these artists in conversation with Barbadian tourism, the book re-examines the ways in which commodity, sexuality, gender performance, and diasporic consciousness undergird individual careers and national representations.

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
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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.

To Hell or Barbados: The ethnic cleansing of Ireland

By Sean O'Callaghan

Brandon
Released: 2013-08-01
Kindle Edition (248 pages)

To Hell or Barbados: The ethnic cleansing of Ireland
 
Product Description:

A vivid account of the Irish slave trade: the previously untold story of over 50,000 Irish men, women and children who were transported to Barbados and Virginia.

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.

Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire

By Andrea Stuart

Vintage
Released: 2013-01-22
Kindle Edition (384 pages)

Sugar in the Blood: A Family s Story of Slavery and Empire
 
Product Description:
In the late 1630s, lured by the promise of the New World, Andrea Stuart’s earliest known maternal ancestor, George Ashby, set sail from England to settle in Barbados. He fell into the life of a sugar plantation owner by mere chance, but by the time he harvested his first crop, a revolution was fully under way: the farming of sugar cane, and the swiftly increasing demands for sugar worldwide, would not only lift George Ashby from abject poverty and shape the lives of his descendants, but it would also bind together ambitious white entrepreneurs and enslaved black workers in a strangling embrace. Stuart uses her own family story—from the seventeenth century through the present—as the pivot for this epic tale of migration, settlement, survival, slavery and the making of the Americas.

As it grew, the sugar trade enriched Europe as never before, financing the Industrial Revolution and fuelling the Enlightenment. And, as well, it became the basis of many economies in South America, played an important part in the evolution of the United States as a world power and transformed the Caribbean into an archipelago of riches. But this sweet and hugely profitable trade—“white gold,” as it was known—had profoundly less palatable consequences in its precipitation of the enslavement of Africans to work the fields on the islands and, ultimately, throughout the American continents. Interspersing the tectonic shifts of colonial history with her family’s experience, Stuart explores the interconnected themes of settlement, sugar and slavery with extraordinary subtlety and sensitivity. In examining how these forces shaped her own family—its genealogy, intimate relationships, circumstances of birth, varying hues of skin—she illuminates how her family, among millions of others like it, in turn transformed the society in which they lived, and how that interchange continues to this day. Shifting between personal and global history, Stuart gives us a deepened understanding of the connections between continents, between black and white, between men and women, between the free and the enslaved. It is a story brought to life with riveting and unparalleled immediacy, a story of fundamental importance to the making of our world.

The Barbadian Cultural Renaissance: Iconographic Reconstruction and Search for Identity

By Ralph A. Jemmott

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (406 pages)

The Barbadian Cultural Renaissance: Iconographic Reconstruction and Search for Identity
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This book examines the development of Barbadian Culture through the Arts during the period after Independence leading up to the year 2016, and is written and offered in recognition and celebration of Barbados' 50th anniversary of Independence. It is a retrospective on the state of cultural awareness over the past 50 years.

It is divided into three parts, the first of which examines an earlier belief in a 'non-existent Barbadian culture', and discusses the legitimacy of a Barbadian Cultural Renaissance and a 'gradual awakening after the year 1966. Part Two examines the 'iconographic reconstruction' of Barbadian culture, where the previously dominant Eurocentric values are partially replaced by an awareness of the cultural significance of the Black populace, and highlights the more significant contributions of certain 'cultural icons' over a period of 50 years. Part Three challenges the direction in which some aspects of Barbadian culture are heading. "To some degree it may reflect the writer's own cultural ambivalence between the more liberal ingredients... and the older more conservative aspects... What matters ultimately is that 'the culture' in the full sense speaks to those things that advance a genuinely humane enterprise and an enlightened progressivism consonant with human dignity."

"All is not lost; the author's conclusion inspires some sense of achievement and hope."
- Dr. Viola Davis -

Passage To England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home

By John Western

Brand: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Released: 1992-03-22
Paperback (344 pages)

Passage To England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home
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Book by Western, John

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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