"I did not want to face the shame of exposure": Gender ideologies and child murder in post-emancipation Jamaica

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This article examines 125 court cases of infanticide and concealment of birth that were reported in a Jamaican newspaper between 1865 and 1938 and were mainly committed by lower-class women. Informed by recent medical, psychological and legal studies on child murder, it demonstrates that historians can gain a more complete understanding of child murder in the modern period if they pay attention not only to poverty and a stigma attached to illegitimacy but also to societal norms of mothering and psycho-social stress factors. And more particularly, it will show that in spite of attempts to bring them in line with the metropolitan ideal of a family of husband/breadwinner, wife/homemaker and legitimate children, most lower-class African Jamaicans continued to hold on to their own norms of family, sexuality and gender, which had been carried over from Africa and reinforced by plantation practices during slavery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)0
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Social History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007



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