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My Research

I am broadly interested in the transimperial/transnational history of the Greater Caribbean and the Atlantic World. 

Current Project: The Greater Southern Caribbean in the Revolutionary Era

My current research is significant in three ways. First, my work will cut across linguistic and cultural boundaries and advances conceptualizations of regions in the Atlantic World, showing evidence for a very polyglot, cross-imperial and interconnected Greater Southern Caribbean world. Not till the second half of the eighteenth century, with the growth of the Windward Islands, the southern Dutch Antilles, the southern rimland, together with the continued importance of a well-established colony such as Barbados, is it possible to conceive of a new zone of interaction, a Southern Caribbean that encompasses Venezuela and its offshore islands, the Guianas, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Lesser Antillean chain from Dominica to the Grenadines. Historians continue to reconsider the boundaries of the Caribbean, resulting in a shifting understanding of traditional regions in the Americas. They now increasingly focus on the relationships between the islands and territories of North, Central and South America that touch the Caribbean Sea. Second, my research will complicate our understanding of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European empires, revealing their increasing porosity and interdependent nature in the Caribbean. By the 1780s, Spanish Trinidad with an influx of settlers from the Francophone Caribbean had virtually become a French colony. In fact, Frenchmen fully infiltrated the island’s main governing body, the ‘Cabildo’. By 1786, Trinidad’s Cabildo consisted of seven Frenchmen, two Spaniards and one Irishman. Similarly, Dutch Demerara experienced a significant flood of British colonists from nearby Caribbean islands such as Barbados and Antigua. By the 1780s, most plantations were British owned. Essentially, Trinidad was an entangled indigenous, Spanish, French and British territory by the turn of the nineteenth century just as Demerara was an indigenous, Dutch, French and British one. Finally, my work, by focusing mainly on Trinidad and Demerara, will help to remedy the dearth of scholarship on individual colonies in the Southern Caribbean during the Revolutionary era. The colonies in this region remain largely unknown because so few historians have paid attention to them. This is especially alarming for Trinidad and Demerara, two instrumental colonies and key nodes of the Southern Caribbean during this crucial period.

Dexnell Peters, Historian of the Greater Caribbean and the Atlantic World