Art and Emancipation in Jamaica

Isaac Mendes Belisario and His Worlds

Tim Barringer, Gillian Forrester, and Barbaro Martinez Ruiz; With essays by Stephen Banfield, Kenneth Bilby, Catherine Hall, Stuart Hall, Kay Dian Kriz, Verene A. Shepherd, Holly Snyder, and Robert Farris Thompson

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Coinciding with the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade, this multi-disciplinary volume chronicles the iconography of sugar, slavery, and the topography of Jamaica from the beginning of British rule in 1655 to the aftermath of emancipation in the 1840s. Focusing on the visual and material culture of slavery and emancipation in Jamaica, it offers new perspectives on art, music, and performance in Afro-Jamaican society and on the Jewish diaspora in the Caribbean. Central to the book is Sketches of Character (1837–38)—a remarkable series of lithographs by the Jewish Jamaican artist Isaac Mendes Belisario—the earliest visual representation of the masquerade form Jonkonnu. Innovative scholarship traces the West African roots of Jonkonnu through its evolution in Jamaica and continuing transformation today; offers a unique portrait of Jamaican culture at a pivotal historical moment; and provides a new model for interpreting the visual culture of empire.

Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art, Yale University. Gillian Forrester is Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, Yale Center for British Art. Barbaro Martinez Ruiz is Assistant Professor of Art and Art History, Stanford University.


EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (27 September – December 30, 2007)

"[This catalog] traces the history of Jamaica from the beginning of British rule in 1655 to the abolition of slavery on the island in the 1830s. . . . The displays and research yield fascinating stories, not only about art's relation to history but also about the appalling cruelty that humans inflict upon one another."—Benjamin Genocchio, New York Times

"A comprehensive overview of 'sugar, slavery, and the topography of Jamaica' from the years 1655 through to the beginning of emancipation in the 1840s. Breathtaking in its scope, this oversize, lavishly illustrated volume belongs in all public and instituional libraries. . . . Impressive."—Art Times

"Impressive. . . . Recommended."—Choice

“… an ambitious research volume … Art and Emancipation is an impressive feat of academic research and critical inquiry into areas of English, Jewish and Afro-American heritage, almost unheard of in mainstream narratives on the history of slavery and the Atlantic world.” - Temi-Tope C. Odumodu, Print Quarterly

Awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2008 American Association of Museum Publications for Design.

Winner of the 2009 Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award, given by the College Art Association.
ISBN: 9780300116618
Publication Date: December 5, 2007
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Yale Center for British Art
612 pages, 8 1/2 x 12
499 color illus.
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