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No Women Jump Out!

Gender Exclusion, Labour Organization and Political Leadership in Antigua 1917-1970


Christolyn Williams

This book aims to provide a history of twentieth-century labour in the British colony of Antigua and Barbuda. It documents the labour and class struggles between landowners and peasants both before and after the legalization and formation of trades and labour unions in 1940. It exposes the political and racial dynamics of British colonialism in the eastern Caribbean as never before. The racial dynamics are evident between white colonial administrators, landowners and mill and factory owners, as they struggled to maintain control over a black and coloured population in a changing world.
The long overlooked history of the role of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) in facilitating the end of British colonialism is one of the surprising stories of this book, as is the astonishing role of women. Despite their exclusion from labour and trade union history, oral sources show women played a key role as labour organizers who defied employers by planning meetings and actively recruiting union members. They were always there, as domestic workers in urban areas, in the fields and in the factories. They served as recruiters and organizers, carried the lights for outdoor meetings and encouraged and stood behind the union leaders. Despite their central role, they did not «jump out», and their stories became forgotten, overlooked even, in the history of Caribbean labour.


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1938 Royal Commission 109 agricultural diversification why slow 50 Anglican church patriarchal values 91 treatment of women 75 Anglican Church marriages in St. Johns 87 Antigua and Barbuda ‘free’ labour force 22 causes of population decrease 60 creation of peasant class 44 Crown Colony status 24 decline in sugar production 48 demographics 1911 78 emancipation 3, 21 failure to attract new investors 31 historical role of women 75 importance in free labor history 2 incarceration rates 1926–1927 79 labour laws 19 labour protests 63 lack of historical analysis 19 living conditions 31, 32 modernization missed 42 part of Leeward Islands 1 planter class hegemony 43 post-emancipation economy 22 post-emancipation tensions 24 post-emancipation villages 27 revolt 1917 and 1918 6 sugar cane production 41 unique history 57 uniqueness of 68 when colonized 19 Antigua Girl’s High School 167 Antigua Labour Party (ALP) 151, 185 Antigua Progressive Seamen’s Friendly Society 137 Antigua Sugar Factory LTD (ASF) 58 Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) 10, 107, 185 challenges 140 contribution to spread of traditional roles 166 ef fect on black and coloured majority 136 ef fect on labour 140 evolution 117 foundation of 136 gender roles 128 involvement of TUC 114 Juvenile branches 158 local leadership tradition 129 male predominance 157 move into politics 142 organizational inf luences 128 patriarchal structure 128 registration with state 140 unionism into politics 142 women in history of 175 Women’s Auxiliary 153 Antigua Workingmen’s Association 119, 137 Antigua. No. 3 of 139, 195 ordinance 202 Antiguan...

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