Slave-rebel Three-Fingered Jack terrorized colonial Jamaica between 1780 and 1781 until he was executed by Maroons, self-emancipated Afro-Jamaicans, treaty-bound to the colonial government. A thief and a killer, Jack was also a freedom fighter who sabotaged the colonial machine until his grisly death at its behest. As Professor Frances Botkin explains in her new book Thieving Three-Fingered Jack: Transatlantic Tales of a Jamaican Outlaw, producers of culture in England, Jamaica, and the United States, have, for centuries, “thieved" his riveting story, defining themselves through and against their representations of him. Narratives about Jack create the occasion to consider counter-narratives about colonial methods of divide and conquer, beginning as early as the English invasion of Jamaica in 1655. These narratives shed light on the problematic legacy of black masculinity in the Atlantic world as the English defined themselves against those they enslaved, disciplined, manipulated and feared. We're excited to invite Professor Botkin to share her work exploring the persistence of stories about Jack and his legacy in contemporary Jamaican and US popular culture.
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