Alison Hight: RCHA Seminar
Tuesday, February 07, 2023, 11:00am - 01:00pm
Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis
2022-2023 Seminar Series:
“Repairing The Past”
Co-directors, Jochen Hellbeck (History) and Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (History)
February 7, 2023
(Rutgers-History PhD candidate and RCHA Graduate Fellow)
“Dominion Magna Carta: Responsible Government and Constitutional Reform in mid 19th c. British Canada and Jamaica”
Tuesday, February 7, 2023: 11 am--1:00 pm (hybrid)
This paper considers how the British colonial policy of ‘responsible government,’ first put into practice in Canada in 1847, sparked a constitutional crisis in Jamaica thirteen years later. I suggest that the British state’s general reluctance towards devolved representative government was compounded by the prospect of extending it to a majority non-white colony. The nebulous yet authoritative language of ‘responsible government,’ and constitutional reform more broadly, both precipitated the Jamaican crisis and enabled its unresolved end. In addition to its contributions to our understanding of broader British imperial policy, considering mid-century colonial Jamaican politics through a constitutional lens may offer fresh insights into the Jamaican Assembly’s 1865 decision to voluntarily suspend its own constitution following Governor Edward Eyre’s violent suppression of a Black uprising.
Alison Hight is a PhD candidate in modern European history at Rutgers University specializing in global Britain. She is especially interested in how British subjects thought about and mobilized the categories of ‘nation’ and ‘empire’ in the long nineteenth century. Alison’s dissertation tracks how ideas about higher education, devolved government, and the monarchy were each shaped by a prevailing British impulse to make national and imperial interests align.