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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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Unfree Labor and Industrial Capital

Unfree Labor and Industrial Capital

Fitness, Disability, and Worth

(p.69) Chapter 3 Unfree Labor and Industrial Capital
Between Fitness and Death

Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores three sites of slavery-induced disability—the Middle Passage, the slave market, and the plantation—to demonstrate that enslaved people lived in the space between fitness and death, a space of physical debilitation resulting not only from natural processes but from enslavement itself. This chapter argues that plantation slavery was a necessary precondition for both industrialization and the emergence of “modern” concepts and displays of disability. The division of labor by skill, age, gender, and physical condition that characterized Caribbean plantations, together with the emphasis on discipline, organization, and timekeeping, made sugar production a precociously industrial and modern undertaking.

Keywords:   disability, Middle Passage, market, plantation, Caribbean, slavery, sugar, industrialization, modernity, fitness

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