Introduction
On August 1, 1838, the dayof the complete abolition of slavery in the B
ish Caribbean, the newly free members of the Mount Zion mission in
maica paraded to celebrate their freedom. They marched three abrea
the church and schoolhouse: first men, then children, and finally wom
On arrival outside the church, the congregants were met by their m
ister and his wife, who read out phrases adorning banners carrie
the parade. These slogans predicted a bright liberal future for the isl
‘‘Wages are better than whips,’’ stated one. A second read, ‘‘We will w
for our wives and children.’’ ‘‘No Bond but the Law,’’ read a third. E
was greeted by ‘‘three hearty cheers.’’1
The ceremony, one of many similar events that took place in Jam
that day, described and attempted to enact the fundamental transfor
tion of a slave into a free society envisaged by the British architects
supporters of emancipation. The spatial arrangement of the event—
missionary and his wife outside the church, receiving an ordered pa
of freed men, children, and lastly women—engaged both missiona
and freedpeople in an elaborate performance of idealized hierarchie
gender and race in the new society, a performance which, tellingly,
no place for planters or representatives of the colonial state. The b
ners so eagerly cheered suggested an easy process of change in which
physical punishment that characterized slavery would be replaced by
less tangible discipline of a gendered labor market in which men wo
be motivated to work by their desire to provide for dependents.
Despitethebanners’optimism,forreadersnowtheirslogansalsoi
cate the problems and conflicts that would, in different ways, confron
g
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/
NO
BOND
BUT
THE
LAW
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