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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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The British West Indies

The British West Indies

(p.134) 7 The British West Indies
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

B. W. Higman

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the third phase in the historiography of the British West Indies by Waddell. Waddell contended that this phase began in the early 1950s and, when he wrote, was ‘as yet in its early stages’. This phase, he predicted, ‘may be expected to be dominated by the West Indian professional historian’. It is perhaps significant that in the periods before Waddell's third phase, there was no attempt to study the history of the writing of West Indian history. An important general feature of history-writing in the West Indies since 1950 has been an effort to think of the British colonies as part of a larger region and a larger world to subvert the fragmentation rooted in the geophysical history of the archipelago exploited by European imperialism. Efforts to rethink the history of the territories which once formed the British West Indies and to rewrite that history from a West Indian point of view have been only partially successful. The fragmented nationalisms of the modern Caribbean reflect the Imperial realities of the past, and some questions can be conceptualized efficiently only by restoring to the narrative the organizing principles of British Empire.

Keywords:   British West Indies, British Empire, West Indian historiography, Waddell, European imperialism, Caribbean

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