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Black Literacy and Resistance in Jamaica


This essay considers how literacy, specifically reading, facilitated slave
rebellion in Jamaica in the age of revolutions. During the 1831-1832 slave
uprising, Samuel Sharpe, a literate, enslaved Baptist preacher used literacy
to advance his sense of freedom and organise a non-violent labour strike.
This essay provides an overview of Christian instruction among blacks
prior to emancipation in Jamaica and contextualises the role that reading
played in Sharpe’s insurgent activity. It closes with a reading of fictional

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