Slavery, Smallholding and Tourism -- New book on BVI social history

My book on BVI social history, entitled "Slavery, Smallholding and Tourism: Social Transformations in the British Virgin Islands", released two weeks ago in eBook format for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBook/iTunes readers, is now also available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both paperback and hardcover print editions.

Slavery, Smallholding and Tourism is a study in the political economy of development of the British Virgin Islands—from plantation economy, through the evolution of a smallholding economy, to the rise of tourism.

The study argues that the demise of plantation economy in the BVI ushered in a century of imperial disinterest persisting until recently, when a new ‘monocrop’—tourism—became ascendant.

The book is published by Quid Pro Books, an independent academic imprint, Alan Childress, Conrad Meyer III Professor of Law at Tulane University, publisher.

Further details on the book may be found at the publisher’s website (

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Comment by Michael O'Neal on March 15, 2012 at 3:40am

Mr Gardner, Thanks for your comments, informed by your familiarity with aspects of the impact of tourism in the Virgin Islands, particularly, you convey, with reference to Jost Van Dyke. The book deals especially with the evolution of the BVI Government's deployment of tourism as development strategy at a particular moment in time, the 1960s/1970s, and to BVIslanders' responses to the ensuing social transformations as those changes are happening.

Comment by Todd Gardner on March 15, 2012 at 2:05am

Mr. O'Niel, Your teaser of a post has raised my curiosity.  I suppose that was its design to promote the book.  The publisher's website insinuated that the tourism may be returning a portion of the populace to a form of "slavery".  It is this point in which my interest is peeked.  Although my knowledge can not be as broad as your research, I have talked with many islanders in both the USVI and BVI.  Back in '98 when Jost van Dike was still trying to and roads and electricity to many of the island inhabitants, there was a sence of pity and determination to NOT end up like those from St. Thomas just a few miles away.  On St. Thomas developers came in and built lovely modern highrise apartments with hot running water and electricity.  These were mainly sold or traded to the islanders.  Only after seeing that the lands that they traded for modern conviences, became resorts and high class shopping for a new breed of island resident, did their losses become realized.  Then as the culture was changed it became nessessary for many to go into the employ of the resorts and stores to mantain there new lifestyles of poverty.  Those on Jost van Dyke knew this and were determined not to become victims and held there lands.  However I have watch many change.  An innocence has been lost.  My earlest travels were met with an open honest people.  Everyone knew everyone else, the patriarchs of the two main families did more policing than the police or customs officer.  Subsequent travels have shown one family almost completely withdraw from the hoards to tourists that fight and steal and have distroyed there reefs and ruined the fishing.  The other family has proceeded to welcome the tourists with open arms only to fleece them for every penny there by covering any losses.  Two different approches to the same problem.  Both discribe a paradise lost.  Are these the kind of things that you address in your book?  Or are my observations too small to be included in a book that covers a large group of islands. 


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