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While historians have increasingly examined inter-racial marriage, they have so far paid scant attention to intraracial marriage. This article tries to fill this gap in the scholarship by examining the practice of ‘marrying light’ in Jamaica from c. 1918 to 1980. Based on a wide range of sources, including memoirs and autobiographical fiction, it is particularly concerned with the motives for cross-colour marriage and the ways in which African-Jamaican children learned that ‘marrying light’ was an ideal to aspire to. It shows that colour, gender and class intersected in complex ways in ‘marrying light’ and that in most instances cross-colour marriages in Jamaica, like elsewhere, were a trade-off between one high-ranking variable and another. Due to the limitations of the source material, the article does not fully explore the extent of ‘marrying light’ and the quality of cross-colour marriages.
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