A Small Place

History and background

In 1493 Christopher Columbus was on his second voyage when he spotted an island. He named it Antigua after the saint Santa Maria de la Antigua. Sir Thomas Warner from England was able to colonize the island in 1632 by starting plantations that included tobacco and sugarcane. This was the beginning of slavery on the island. Slaves from West Africa worked on these plantations. Antigua became known as the English Harbourtown for its great location in the Caribbean.In 1834 slavery was finally abolished, but their conditions only got worse with the “land shortages and the universal refusal of credit”.[2] Antigua gained full independence on November 1, 1981. In 1990 the prime minister was Vere Bird. His son was removed from the public office for arms trafficking. The country also was having problems with money laundering. One of the worst things that happened to Antigua was in 2009 when the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged their biggest investor, Sir Allen Stanford, of investment fraud.[3] This caused Antigua to lose its main source of money. The island is known as a tourist location, but the island suffered damaged after Hurricane Luis 1995 and Hurricane Georges 1998, and a lack of tourist after September 11 and the murder of a British couple on the island. Jamaica Kincaid's novel can be seen as anti-imperialism because she brings up the issue of tourism and government corruption, both of which became prevalent after colonialism was abolished. She criticizes Antigua's dependence on tourism for its economy. The hurricanes caused great damage and this can also be seen in the novel when she describes how great the library was before, but how the library was completely destroyed and left in rubble after the hurricane. Antigua was not able to fully recover after the hurricanes. It damaged and destroyed many buildings that were never renovated like Kincaid's explains in the novel. Kincaid explains how many people in office were charged with all forms of corruption. Antigua was never able to recover to become what it used to be under the British government. They lack money and uncorrupt political officials.

A Small Place is a polemic, "an enraged essay about racism and corruption in Antigua."[4]


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