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British Subjects and Objects: A note on West Indians characters' references to the rights of the British Subject


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British Subjects and Objects: A note on West Indians characters' references to the rights of the British Subject
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Teaching and course materials
Rosenberg, Leah R.
Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC)
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Miami, FL
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Course materials for Panama Silver, Asian Gold
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Course materials for: “Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Migration, Money, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean” an interdisciplinary Digital Humanities Course with the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC, www.dloc.com) Spring 2014, taught by Leah Rosenberg at the University of Florida

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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British Subjects and Objects A note on West Indians characters' references to the rights of the British Subject By Leah Rosenberg One very helpful point that Frederick ma kes (from Bonham Richardson) is that the people who did survive and went home with money to spare had something big to brag about as they had overcome many odds and difficulties. It might be helpful to compare the three canal. It might be placed in relation to the characters' exaggerated claims of the importance of British Citizenship 1. s My Garden Book pp. 145 146 Kincaid is impatient with her father for suggesting that his father built the Panama Canal himself. 2. Susan Proudleigh 104 if a black man go ther an that they are British Objects, 157 3. larly boastful claim that he was able to get payment for his leg because he was a British citizen and the British consel would attack the US canal zone just to get payment for his loss of limb (43 44) with the suggestive metaphor. He I note the swallowing because the canal project and the canal zone itself literally swallowed many West Indians. I just learned that every August the SAMAAP as a remembrance ceremony at Culebra cut to honor all the people who died in building the canal and they do it there because that is the space where so many were literally swallowed by the mud, the soil, and the water. They have a water ceremony because th ey see the canal as a great tomb. 4. We'll see a claim about British Citizenship or Subjecthood also in Olive Senior's "Window." I think that the writers we are reading may also be alluding to the concept of citizenship captured British Empire did send navy ships to a foreign country (Greece) to secure the possessions and


well being of a British subject, and one who as not in fact English, but a Jewish man born in these writers l ikely referring its use by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston (1784 1865) in a 1850 speech when he was home secretary of Britain, defending his decision to send the British its fleet to defend the property of a British Citizen, born in Gibraltar, as the Roman in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus feel c onfident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against Civis Romanus Sum was not simply a statement I am a Roman Citizen or an acceptance of Rome, but rather it was a claim on protection and justice fro nation that the empire would protect each of its citizens. Of CourseThus Civis the hypothetical colonized brown and black citizens of the British Empire are claiming their right to protection from attack and injustice That is, in claiming Roman, or in this case, British citizenship, they are making a claim on equal rights. Those of you who took LIT 4188 with me may remember that the protagonist Rupert Gray to a British law (See note below). In 1909, Stephen Cobham has his black middle class Trinidadian hero, Rupert Gray, claim in great seriousness the position of Civis Romanus, of British subject, as a means of claiming l egitimacy and protection of British Empire and identity. By the time we get to de Lisser (1915) and Walrond (1926), this is a joke and it probably should have been one for Rupert and Cobham but Cobham was calling on Britain to live up to his ideals. De L isser and Walrond are addressing the limitations of British Empire in protecting its citizens. This limitation became very clear during the French canal project when the British did little to protect their subjects even when the French project collapsed a nd left over 20,000 West Indians without money and resources (including food) in Panama (see Olive Olive Senior, The Colon People: Part I, Jamaica the Neglect ed Jamaica Journal 11, nos. 3 and 4 (1977):62 70 & The Colon People: Part II Jamaica Journal 42 (1978):87 102 Sources Broadlands Archives, Southhampton University: http://www.broadlandsarchives.com/palmerston papers of a prime minister and foreign secre tary/ :


Excerpt Notes for Romanus speech, June 1850 "In the Don Pacifico affair, Palmerston robustly defended the rights of British subjects abroad in a lengthy speech in the Commons: as the Roman in days of old, held himself fre e from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus sum am a Roman so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and The mob destroyed the house of Don Pacifico, a British citizen and Portuguese consul in Athens. Protection from the Greek authorities was not forthcoming. Wikipedia, "the Don Pacifico Affair and Case" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Pacifico_affair_and_case states that Palmerston had the British fleet blockade Athens, which caused protest from France and Russia which along with Britain were protectors of Greece. However, Palmers ton defended his action with the famous long speech in which he used the phrase, Civis Romanus Sum, and Don Pacifico, a Jewish British subject, received monetary compensation, 500 pounds sterling and 120,000 drachmas. Jewish Encyclopedia, Pacifico Cas e http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11839 pacifico case This encyclopedia explains the circumstance that Don Pacifico, who appears to have also been a Portuguese citize n, was the victim of a mob attack as a protest when the powerful Jewish family, the Rothschilds succeeded in having the Athenian practice burning a likeness of Judas Iscariot at Easter abolished in 1847. He then demanded a great deal of money (over 26,00 0 pounds sterling) from the Greek government. After the British navy took over the Greek ships in the Athens harbor, Pacifico was apparently awarded 500 pounds sterling and we then lived in England.

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