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Empire and Nation-Building in the CaribbeanBarbados, 1937-66$
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Mary Chamberlain

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078767

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078767.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
Empire and Nation-Building in the Caribbean

Mary Chamberlain

Manchester University Press

The Great Depression of the 1930s devastated the national economies of West Indies, which also had to already dealing with low wages, unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy and deplorable housing. Barbados was one of the poorest areas in the West Indies with the lowest life expectancy and highest rate of child mortality. It was a white oligarchy that was wholly dependent on sugar and due to the steady fall in its prices, arable land was also turned to sugar production and rural workers with access to small plots of land were forced to grow sugar as a cash crop. The arrest and subsequent deportation of Clement Payne, a socialist from Trinidad, in 1937 finally led to the outbreak of riots in Barbados, which was followed by Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua and British Guiana. These region-wide disturbances highlighted the need for social reform and forced the British government to appoint a Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Lord Moyne, to investigate the causes of the riots and dissent and make recommendations.

Keywords:   West Indies, sugar production, Great Depression, Royal Commission, riots, social reforms, British government, rural workers, cash crop

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