UCL Institute of the Americas


Slave Drivers, Slavery and Managing Enslaved Labourers on British Caribbean Plantations

20 January 2021, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

British Caribbean Plantations

This presentation focuses on the role of drivers, enslaved people—usually men—who were appointed by the owners and managers of Caribbean plantations to supervise labor and maintain discipline.

This event is free.

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UCL Institute of the Americas – UCL Institute of the Americas

If Caribbean plantations were “factories in the field,” drivers were the foremen who made them function. Drivers faced insatiable demands from enslavers and constant resistance from the people they were charged with supervising. With limited options and tools, drivers walked a precarious tightrope as they tried to impose a sense of collective labor discipline while also maintaining their own authority.    

Randy M. Browne, a historian of Atlantic slavery who specializes in the British Caribbean, is an associate professor of history at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio (U.S). He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His first book, Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), focuses on slavery in nineteenth-century Berbice and won the biennial Elsa Goveia Book Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians. Browne’s scholarship has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Education. His articles have appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, the New West Indian Guide, and Slavery & Abolition. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Browne is the Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow at The Huntington, where he is working on his current book project on slave drivers in the British Caribbean.

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