Browning - But most of all mi love me browning: The...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
‘But most of all mi love me browning’: The Emergence in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Jamaica of the Mulatto Woman as the Desired P a tricia M o h a m m e d Abstract One of the most common threads in the Caribbean tapestry races which have pop- ulated the region over the last Žve centuries largely through forced or voluntary migration, is that there have emerged mixtures of the different racial groups. A large proportion of Caribbean women and men are referred to euphemistically as ‘mixed race’. The terms used to describe people of mixed race vary by territory and have been incrementally added to or changed over time. The original nomencla- tures such as sambo, musteephino, mulatto, creole, etc. have been replaced at present to include terms like brown skin, mulatto, clear skin, light skin, red-nigger, dougla and browning. The title of the article comes from a contemporary dance- hall song in Jamaica in which the black singer, Buju Banton, unwittingly echoes an unspoken yet shared notion of female desirability in the Caribbean: a preference for ‘brown’ as opposed to black women or unmixed women. In the ongoing con- structions of femininity in the region, class and skin colour have intersected with race to produce hierarchies and stereotypes of femininity based on racial mixing. Drawing on some of the historical data available, particularly that of the pioneer- ing research in this area produced by Lucille Mathurin in 1974, this article inter- rogates some aspects of miscegenation in the Jamaican past, to conŽgure these with gender, race and class relations in the present. The article does not attempt to arrive at conclusive Žndings but to contribute to the ongoing process in the region, and elsewhere, of differentiating the category ‘woman’ in historiography and sociology. Keywords Mulatto; miscegenation; Jamaica; Caribbean; gender; colonial desire Introduction The subject of miscegenation between black and white populations has provided prurient data for the observers and diarists of slave society in Jamaica (such as Thomas Thistlewood, 1750–86 and Lady Nugent, 1801–5), crucial information for the critics of slavery on the inhumane 22 FEMINIST REVIEW NO 65,SUMMER 2000,PP.22–48 Feminist Review ISSN 0141-7789 print/ISSN 1466-4380 online © Feminist Review Collective
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
nature of slave/master relations, diverting data for the historical researcher in general, and colourful material for the historical Žction writer. In employing the term ‘slave society’ I am ascribing to the concept as it applies to the Caribbean experience in particular. The meaning here is drawn from Elsa Goveia (1965) in her reference to the Leeward Islands – the coherence of the whole system within each territory, more speciŽcally, the division of peoples into groups separated by differences of legal and social status, pos- sessing different political rights and economic opportunities, and differen- tiated by racial origin and culture (Higman, 1998). A mixed-race
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 27

Browning - But most of all mi love me browning: The...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online