Ordinary Lives in the Early Caribbean

COVER Ordinary Lives in the Early CaribbeanOrdinary Lives in the Early Caribbean: Religion, Colonial Competition, and the Politics of Profit
Kristen Block
2012, University of Georgia Press
309 pages

THE BIOGRAPHIES of ordinary people explored in this book make fascinating reading, but more importantly expose the hypocrisy underlying much of the religious rhetoric of the 17th century that was deployed to justify European expansion and exploitation in the Caribbean. Block recreates the lives of a range of people buffeted by a turbulent and fickle moral economy in which salvation was just a short step away from slavery, and both were played out in a landscape – or seascape – of greed, gluttony and unscrupulousness populated by pirates, merchants, slavers, colonial officials and indeed ordinary survivors of this era themselves. The author writes: “The Caribbean crucible of empire, slavery, and piracy … mocked European pretensions to the moral high ground in colonial expansion.” Block provides a fascinating and valuable insight into a crucial period of European development in which religion begins to be put to the service of mercantilism and, ultimately, early capitalism. It is a crucial development and the Caribbean’s social and religious diversity in this period magnifies its role in this transformation, ultimately with global consequences. – GO’T

Latin American Review of Books – Latamrob www.latamrob.com

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