“Drivers in Revolt: Slavery, Leadership, and the Berbice Conspiracy of 1814”

OI Colloquium with Randy Browne

This paper is part of a broader book project about the role of enslaved drivers on British Caribbean plantations. Here, Browne uses the voluminous documentation of a rebellious conspiracy in Berbice (part of what is now Guyana) and focuses on the crucial role of drivers. Some drivers were leaders of the African “nations” that organized the rebel plot while others were whistleblowers who exposed it. Centering drivers thus offers an opportunity to reconsider the leadership, organization, and ideology of Caribbean slave rebellions as well as the complex and contingent politics of the enslaved.

Randy M. Browne, a historian of Atlantic slavery who specializes in the British Caribbean, is an associate professor of history at Xavier University. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His first book, Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), won the biennial Elsa Goveia Book Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians. Browne’s scholarship has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, and the U.S. Department of Education. His articles have appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly, the New West Indian Guide, and Slavery & Abolition.


The OI’s Colloquium Series is an ongoing seminar for scholars to present their work in progress for graduate students and colleagues.  Advanced registration is required. All participants read the pre-circulated  paper and prepare to engage in generous and generative feedback.

When we meet in person we are limited by the size of the OI’s conference room; online we limit registration to 40 (a typical size for the colloquium). No recordings are made of the discussions and no tweeting or posting on other social media platforms during the event is permitted in order to encourage this intellectual community of trusted exchange.


Contact Beverly Smith for your copy.