Tropical Despotisms

Tropical Despotisms: Enlightened Reform in the French Caribbean

Hardback Published on: 15/09/2024
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Published 15/09/2024
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Tropical Despotisms reveals the alarm that spread among France's Caribbean possessions during the period between the Seven Years' War and the Revolution and the determination to cultivate a new patriotic community rooted in the Enlightenment principles of honor and civic virtue.

Following France's humiliating defeat at the hands of the British, a loose coalition of frustrated and enlightened reformers hoped to promote imperial regeneration in order to restore France's wounded national pride, stabilize and strengthen the Antillean colonies, and bind the colonies more closely to the metropole.

David Allen Harvey describes the historical relationship between capitalism and slavery in the making of the modern world economy and moves beyond simplistic arguments by discussing the contingent and evolving dynamic between the two. As a result, he reveals how capitalism and slavery developed in tandem in the eighteenth-century Caribbean but explains that reformers sought to enact a gradual transition to a free wage labor regime more in keeping with capitalism's ideal of free and voluntary contractual relationships between formally equal parties.

Tropical Despotisms provides a new perspective on the social and demographic structure in the French Antilles and the wider French Atlantic world. Harvey uncovers not only the deep and critical debates around the issues of slavery and race but also the efforts by enlightened reformers as they proposed rethinking the political and economic structures by which the empire had been ruled, rationalizing governing institutions, and liberalizing trade.

  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • ISBN: 9781501776670
  • Number of pages: 306
  • Weight: 907g
  • Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm

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