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Between Fitness and DeathDisability and Slavery in the Caribbean$
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Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043192

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043192.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 25 June 2022

Between Human and Animal

Between Human and Animal

The Disabling Power of Slave Law

(p.39) Chapter 2 Between Human and Animal
Between Fitness and Death

Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

University of Illinois Press

Through a close examination of British Caribbean slave laws, this chapter argues that British Caribbean slave law always recognized the humanity of the slave, and the law’s power derived from its ability to see Africans’ humanity and effectively disable it. Slave law suspended Africans and their descendants between the human and the animal through disability-inducing laws. The principle of maternal inheritance was a legal notion that positioned enslaved women as legally equivalent to animals. The slave codes of Barbados and Jamaica disabled enslaved Africans by limiting their mobility, freedom, and autonomy, and by divesting them of political status. The codes encouraged the physical impairment and disfigurement of captives by sanctioning punishments that disabled and disfigured as well as by establishing a culture in which whites could punish captives with impunity in whatever way they desired.

Keywords:   slave law, Caribbean, humanity, disability, maternal inheritance, animal, Barbados, Jamaica, punishment, disfigurement

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