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In this chapter, Matthew J. Smith asks what was it about C. L. R. James’s intellectual environment in Trinidad that drove his conviction to pursue a study of the Haitian Revolution so passionately? What was James’s knowledge about that event at that point in his life, and what purpose did that history serve for him? This chapter argues that the answers to these questions can be found by looking outside of The Black Jacobins and James and exploring a wider intellectual tradition in the colonial British West Indies which James was connected to long before he left Trinidad.

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