Race, Gender and Reproduction in the Caribbean, 1860s-1980s

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Oscar Webber SAR M.13


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

In the wake of slavery, debates about the intersecting politics of race, gender, and reproduction arose in the Francophone, Anglophone, and Hispanic Caribbean and continued well into the 1960s. This module explores the ways in which the formerly enslaved as well as former planters, imperial officials, newly indentured labourers from South Asia, philanthropists, medical professionals, and welfare workers contributed to and shaped colonial social welfare, health policies, and ideas surrounding racial uplift and improvement. Students will engage in comparative intellectual and social history by drawing on primary and secondary sources to consider the influence of European and American imperialism in the Caribbean. A range of topics will be explored including post-emancipation population decline; infant mortality; illegitimacy; venereal disease; birth control; inter- and extra regional migration; eugenics; tropical medicine; interwar population increase and the impact these issues had on the First and Second World Wars, decolonisation, departmentalisation and other independence struggles. Each week students will focus on a topic in relation to different Caribbean islands. All primary sources will be available in English.


Students will engage with seminar content in small group meetings. Learning engagement includes a mixture of live sessions, small group meetings, short presentations and recorded content.

There will be a reading week in the MT and the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce one essay (2,500 to 3,000 words) in MT; and one presentation in either the MT or the LT. Students will also be required to prepare short summaries of the readings for the weekly meetings.

Indicative reading

Bourbonnais, Nicole, Birth Control in the Decolonizing Caribbean: Reproductive Politics and Practice on Four Islands, 1930-1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Briggs, Laura, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science and US Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

De Barros, Palmer, Steven and Wright, David (eds.), Health and Medicine in the Circum-Caribbean, 1800-1968 (New York: Routledge, 2009).

De Barros, Juanita, Reproducing the British Caribbean: Sex, Gender and Population Politics after Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Findlay, Eileen, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1902 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999).

Holt, Thomas, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1992).

Knight, Franklin W, B. W. Higman, and Bridget Brereton (eds.), General History of the Caribbean (London: UNESCO Publishing, 1997).

Macpherson, Anne, From Colony to Nation: Women Activists and the Gendering of Politics in Belize, 1912-1982 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).

Renda, Mary, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).

Palmer, Steven, Launching Global Health: The Caribbean Odyssey of the Rockefeller Foundation (Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press, 2010).

Putnam, Lara, The Company they Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1969 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

Shepherd, Verene, Bridget Brereton, and Barbara Bailey (eds.), Engendering History: Caribbean Women in Historical Perspective (Kingston: Ian Randle, 1999).


Essay (40%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Essay (40%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (20%) in the MT and LT.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2019/20: 14

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills