Destined for a Life of Service

Defining African–Jamaican womanhood, 1865–1938

By Henrice Altink

Destined for a Life of Service

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8028-9
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2011
  • BIC Category: History & Archaeology, History, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Black Studies (Global), History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, Society & social sciences / Gender studies, gender groups, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
  • Series: Gender in History


Based on a wide range of original sources, including folktales, anthropological studies, court statements, poetry and speeches, this book sheds new light on the struggle of people of African descent for full and equal citizenship in the post-emancipation British Caribbean. It examines the messages that African-Jamaican women were given about their place and roles from within and outside their own community, the extent to which these messages intersected with class and colour ideologies, and African-Jamaican women's attempts to realise these ideals of femininity amidst various constraints.

Incorporating the full realm of African-Jamaican women's experiences, exploring not just their sexuality and reproduction but also their roles as labourers, citizens and freedom fighters, the book also links shifting gender ideologies to citizenship, race and nation. Essential reading for undergraduates and graduates interested in gender within the British Caribbean during the critical transformative period between 1865 and 1938, it will also interest political scientists and other scholars working on questions of nationalism, transnationalism and the gendered nature of citizenship.


Map of Jamaica
1. 'Me shame you know': The ideal and real of lower-class women's sexuality
2. A woman's natural destiny: African-Jamaican women and marriage
3. To be a good woman is to be a good mother: Turning African-Jamaican women into self-effacing, loving and caring mothers
4. 'Men are not the only labourers': African-Jamaican women and man's sphere of work
5. 'We are equal to the men in ability to do anything!': The status and practice of African-Jamaican women's citizenship


Henrice Altink is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York

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