Becoming Catholic: religion and society in colonial Grenada, 1763-1838

Cornelius, Mary (2020) Becoming Catholic: religion and society in colonial Grenada, 1763-1838. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the development of black-centred Catholicism in colonial Grenada, focussing on the period between the British conquest of the colony from France in 1763 to the end of the apprenticeship scheme in 1838. I aim to understand how Catholicism progressed from a white French imperial religion to one almost exclusively identified with Black Grenadians. To do so, I focus on the social status of Grenada’s Catholics of all races and classes as they struggled against the manifestations of imperial Britain in colonial society: political institutions, religious institutions, and most significantly the institution of slavery. This allows me to explore the interactions and intersections of the colonial attitudes, conflicts, and hierarchies that shaped black religious experiences.
To analyse the development of black Catholicism, I focus on specific social groups whose struggles against British imperialism slowly but surely pushed Catholicism into the margins of colonial society, away from white and free people of colour to enslaved Africans. In particular, I examine: white French Catholics whose brief political ascent resulted in a revocation of all Catholic civil liberties regardless of race while colonial power reverted completely and solely to British Protestants; free people of colour whose bid for political control through Fédon’s revolution led ultimately to the removal of most free practitioners of Catholicism in Grenada; and enslaved Africans whose struggle to retain Catholic identities—or any religious identity—was frustrated and limited by dominating white colonists, particularly through enslavement, the plantation system and religious education. Through this analysis I show how the struggles of these different groups, enslaved and free, contested and defied British domination to shape black religious experiences. At the core of this project is a re-evaluation of the formation of black, and especially enslaved, religious identity forged in a crucible of white domination.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Caribbean history, slavery studies, religious history, history of Catholicism, colonialism.
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Newman, Dr. Simon and Spurlock, Dr. Scott
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr Mary Cornelius
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81764
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2020 09:44
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2020 10:05

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