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Gluttony, excess, and the fall of the planter class in the British Caribbean

Petley, Christer (2012) Gluttony, excess, and the fall of the planter class in the British Caribbean [in special issue: Rethinking the Fall of the Planter Class] Atlantic Studies, 9, (1), pp. 85-106. (doi:10.1080/14788810.2012.637000).

Record type: Article


Food and rituals around eating are a fundamental part of human existence. They can also be heavily politicized and socially significant. In the British Caribbean, white slaveholders were renowned for their hospitality towards one another and towards white visitors. This was no simple quirk of local character. Hospitality and sociability played a crucial role in binding the white minority together. This solidarity helped a small number of whites to dominate and control the enslaved majority. By the end of the eighteenth century, British metropolitan observers had an entrenched opinion of Caribbean whites as gluttons. Travelers reported on the sumptuous meals and excessive drinking of the planter class. Abolitionists associated these features of local society with the corrupting influences of slavery. Excessive consumption and lack of self-control were seen as symptoms of white creole failure. This article explores how local cuisine and white creole eating rituals developed as part of slave societies and examines the ways in which ideas about hospitality and gluttony fed into the debates over slavery that led to the dismantling of slavery and the fall of the planter class.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 12 January 2012
Published date: March 2012
Keywords: planters, caribbean, jamaica, food, drink, gluttony, abolitionism
Organisations: History


Local EPrints ID: 200397
ISSN: 1478-8810
PURE UUID: 8f838d24-aecf-4014-8f1c-11e011d5382a

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Date deposited: 25 Oct 2011 09:30
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:14

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Author: Christer Petley

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