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Beyond Massa Book Report

1341 words - 6 pages

In the book Beyond Massa: Sugar Management in the British Caribbean, 1770-1834, by John F. Campbell, it’s main focus encompasses and revolves around issues surrounding slavery practices by using Golden Grove estate in Jamaica as a primary source during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The author highlighted the slavery period of the sugar monoculture era, followed by the development of amelioration policies, to the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, and finally the failed industry in 1834. The book uses archival data which logically analyses, revises and modifies the historical ideologies, thus manifesting revisionist philosophies about sugar estates in the Caribbean region. It really sets the reader to have different insights and perspectives with respect to the managerial systems, hierarchical structure, political dimensions, social relationships and a relatively new field of analysis- the Human Resource Management strategies. This report seeks to discuss the ideas of color-class hierarchy, the role of gender and sex, the introduction of the Amelioration Act while analysing the role of slavery and Human Resource Management (HRM) and lastly the effectiveness of the writer’s work and it’s relation to the current course.

Historically one would presume that a “color-class hierarchy” existed with racial differentiations and divisions based on one’s phenotype such that the white local and expatriate held the most power while the African labor held a much lower status. This adamant hierarchy understanding was even displayed by the famous Calypsonian Lord Kitchener saying “If you’re white, you’re alright, if you’re brown, stick around, if you’re black step back” from his song ‘if you’re not white you’re considered black.’ The content of the book however builds on this visage to show revisionist aspects of this stereotypical analogy by using data to show that some enslaved statuses were elevated due to sexual interactions and to show that there subsist a managerial hierarchy (based on wealth experience and local influence) and a labor hierarch (distinctions based on appointed positions). The complexity of managerial pyramid was further altered to view dissolution within the hierarchy system since the pyramid was disproportionately distributed. Stemming from the white management of absentees and overseers all the way down to gang leaders, field workers and invalids along with the diagnosis of “specialist” and “nonspecialist” labor we see the increasing intricacy evolving (Campbell 40-41). Observing the dissolution of the hierarchy setup, it’s self evident that power is apportioned between the distinctive groups and using the generally new Human Resource Management perspective on the issue, the “accommodation” versus “resistance” manifests that power was not only concentrated among the whites (Campbell 130). In fact it is this bargaining of power that was used to fuel many revolts and resistance strategies.

Conversely, the controversy of...

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