King's College London
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‘The paradise of the world’: conflict and society in the Caribbean

Nineteenth century Caribbean colonial life

In this final section we explore aspects of everyday life in the Caribbean in the mid to late nineteenth century – education, healthcare, trade and industry, sport, transport and the region’s emergence as a tourist destination for visitors in search of winter sun.

This period saw the development of health, education and social services in Britain’s Caribbean colonies, and standards of living began generally to rise. Political reform was fairly limited, however, and Parry and Sherlock, in their history of the West Indies, are guarded in their assessment of progress:

The picture that West Indian society presents during this period is one in which different groupings begin to appear; a class structure with the possibility of upward or downward movement .... The social distances are still considerable, but they are less than they were in the post-emancipation period. The groups move a little closer to one another, but they are still separate; there is a wider distribution of money and of privilege but there is no pervading or dynamic sense of unity.

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