In the eighteenth century there was increasingly endemic flight by black slaves out of British logging camps and settlements in Belize across the colonial frontier into Yucatan and other adjacent Spanish territories. This article explores the evidence for this phenomenon, its possible causes and reasons why flight did not occur in the opposite directions, and the implications of flight by nonslaves. Yucatan and Belize were very different societies, and yet the frontier between them was a bridge as much as a barrier. Patterns of flight reflected how British and Spanish spheres were tied together by the human threads of Atlantic world labor. The Yucatan-Belize region was a single, complex dynamo of labor exploitation that encompassed contrasting and competing colonial systems.
Crossing to Safety? Frontier Flight in Eighteenth-Century Belize and Yucatan
Matthew Restall is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History at the Pennsylvania State University. He is currently working on two book projects. One is a study of the relationship between Hernando Cortés and Moctezuma. The other is a history of Belize, from its beginnings to the 1830s.
Matthew Restall; Crossing to Safety? Frontier Flight in Eighteenth-Century Belize and Yucatan. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 August 2014; 94 (3): 381–419. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-2694300
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