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The Enduring, Gilded Periphery: Colonialism and Grand Cayman in Capital's Atlantic World

  • N. D. B. Connolly (a1)

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The man they called “Smiley” died in February 1938 on an operating table in Kingston, Jamaica. His stomach cancer, only recently discovered, was quickly deemed inoperable by a doctor in the Cayman Islands, where he lived with his pregnant wife and four children. In Cayman, there had been no public hospital. Instead, a British heiress paid to build a four-bed emergency ward and dispensary meant to serve the island's 6,500 residents. Four beds for more than six thousand. Such insufficiency represented the extent of institutionalized health care at the edge of the British Empire.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: nconnol2@jhu.edu

References

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Notes

1 Interview with Reginald King Connolly, conducted by Tricia Bodden, Nov. 23, 2016, Rum Point, Grand Cayman, BWI.

2 “Grand Cayman Celebrates,” The Daily Gleaner, May 27, 1937, 11.

3 Quesnel Albunyan Connolly, “A Geographical Survey of Grand Cayman Island—British West Indies” (Master's thesis, Ohio State University, 1940), 81.

4 Connolly, W. S., “Things I Remember” in Negro: An Anthology, eds. Cunard, Nancy and Ford, Hugh D. (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1934), 168; “Thirty-Fourth Meeting, June 1, 3pm,” June 1, 1909, The General Conference Bulletin 6:17 (June 2, 1909): 287–88, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, documents.adventistarchives.org.

5 Men buried at sea were wrapped in makeshift canvas bags, fastened with rope and weighed so as to have them sink to the ocean's bottom.

6 W. S. Connolly to Captain Eugene, Feb. 21, 1938, letter in the possession of the author; for a discussion of Smiley's grandfather, see Hodes, Martha, The Sea Captain's Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007).

7 Nan Enstad, “Debunking the Capitalist Cowboy,” Boston Review, Mar. 21, 2019.

8 Paul Krugman, “Why We're in A New Gilded Age,” New York Review of Books, May 2014.

9 Samir Amin, “World Poverty, Pauperization, and Capital Accumulation,” Monthly Review (Oct. 1, 2003), https://monthlyreview.org/2003/10/01/world-poverty-pauperization-capital-accumulation/ (last accessed Aug. 13, 2018); Roberts, Susan M., “Small Place, Big Money: The Cayman Islands and the International Financial System,” Economic Geography 71:3 (July 1955): 237–56.

10 Informed by the insights of anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot and the conceptual failings of the historian John Higham, I use the language of “periphery” here ironically and intentionally, in full knowledge of its racial implications—really, its constructedness—with the North Atlantic presumed to be “center.” Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, “North Atlantic Universals: Analytic Fictions, 1492–1945,” South Atlantic Quarterly 101 (Fall 2002): 839–58; Higham, John, “The Future of American History,” Journal of American History 80:4 (Mar. 1994): 12891309.

11 “Cayman Notes,” The Daily Gleaner, Jan. 19, 1914, 10.

12 Commissioner's Office correspondence with W. S. Connolly, Apr. 8, 1913, Commissioner's Correspondence, AA/1/19, 1913, no. 284, 97–99, Cayman Island's National Archives, George Town, BWI.

13 W. S. Connolly to the Board of Education, May 6, 1924, Commissioner Correspondence 196/24, Cayman Islands National Archive, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, BWI.

14 W. S. Connolly to Viscount Alfred Milner, Colonial Secretary, May 15, 1919, “Letters from Individuals on Matters Relating to Jamaica,” The National Archives, Colonial Office, Commonwealth, and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices, 1919, CO 137/736, Kew, Richmond, UK; Connolly, “Things I Remember,” 168.

15 Connolly, Things I Remember,” 168.

16 James, C. L. R., The Life of Captain Cipriani: An Account of British Government in the West Indies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014 [1932]); Samuel C. Erman, “Puerto Rico and the Promise of United States Citizenship: Struggles around Status in a New Empire” (Doctoral diss., University of Michigan, 2010); Thornberry, Elizabeth, “Rape, Race, and Respectability in a South African Port City: East London, 1870–1927,” Journal of Urban History 42:5 (2016): 863–80, quote on 871.

17 Putnam, Lara, Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013); Connell, John, “The Cayman Islands: Economic Growth and Immigration in a British Colony,” Caribbean Geography 5:1 (1994): 5166, 52.

18 Saidiya Hartman describes the challenges facing women and girls who disembarked from vessels and faced the vagaries of sexism, racism, and labor in the cities of the global North. Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (New York: W. W. Norton, 2019).

19 Connolly, “A Geographical Survey of Grand Cayman Island—British West Indies,” 73; “Federation in the Caribbean,” Financial Times, Jan. 10, 1956, 6.

20 [Unnamed sender] to W. S. Connolly June 2, 1924, Commissioner Correspondence 196/24, Cayman Islands National Archive, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, BWI.

21 Connolly, “Things I Remember,” 168.

22 Form of Application, Feb. 22, 1924, Commissioner Correspondence 196/24, Cayman Islands National Archive, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, BWI; Michael Craton and the New History Committee, Founded Upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People (Kingston and Miami: Ian Randle Publishers, 2003), 241.

23 Annie Lunis Rankine interview (b. 1912) conducted Sept. 20, 1991, 10; Cayman Islands National Archive.

24 William S. Coe interview (b. 1906) conducted May 2, 1992, 24–25; Cayman Islands National Archive.

25 Coe interview, 25.

26 Coe interview, 10–12.

27 Annie Lunis Rankine interview (b. 1912) conducted Sept. 20, 1991, 12; Cayman Islands National Archive.

28 Binger, Alice Grant, A Brief History of the Cayman Islands: A Unique Community “Founded Upon the Seas” (Alice Grant Binger, 1982), 20.

29 “Colonial,” Financial Times, June 1, 1893, 3.

30 Connell, “The Cayman Islands,” 52.

31 Vanessa Ogle, Archipelago Capitalism: Tax Havens, Offshore Money, and the State, 1950s–1970s,” American Historical Review (Dec. 2017): 1431–58.

32 Schulman, Bruce J., From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt: Federal Policy, Economic Development, and the Transformation of the South (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994).

33 Craton, Founded Upon the Seas, 334.

34 “Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas),” Financial Times, Dec. 7, 1953, 4.

35 “Federation in the Caribbean,” Financial Times, Jan. 10, 1956, 6.

36 Sir George Bolton, head of the Bank of London and South America, quoted in Gary Burn, “The State, the City and the Euromarkets,” Review of International Political Economy (1999): 224–61, 234.

37 Palan, Ronen, “The Second British Empire: The British Empire and the Re-emergence of Global Finance” in Legacies of Empire Imperial Roots of the Contemporary Global Order, eds. Halperin, Sandra and Palan, Ronen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 4068, 55.

38 Palan, “The Second British Empire,” 40–68, 55.

39 Palan, “The Second British Empire,” 40–68, 55.

40 Alan, , Hudson, , “Offshoreness, Globalization, and Sovereignty: A Postmodern Geo-political Economy?,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 25:3 (2000): 271.

41 Palan, “The Second British Empire,” 56.

42 Marina Walker Guevara, Gerard Ryle, Alexa Olesen, Mar Cabra, Michael Hudson, and Christoph Giesen, “Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China's Elite,” icij.com, Aug. 20, 2016 (last accessed Sept. 14, 2018).

43 Craton, Founded Upon the Seas, 356.

44 Nicki Kelly, “Investment Climate Show's Improvement,” Financial Times, July 10, 1974 [no page number given].

45 Swann, Quito, Black Power in Bermuda and the Struggle for Decolonization (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009).

46 Roberts, Susan M., “Small Place, Big Money: The Cayman Islands and the International Financial System,” Economic Geography 71:3 (July 1995): 237–56, 245; Freyer, Tony and Morriss, Andrew P., “Creating Cayman as an Offshore Financial Center: Structure and Strategy since 1960,” Arizona State Law Journal 45 (2013): 12971398; Alan Hudson, “Offshoreness, Globalization and Sovereignty: A Post-Modern Geo-political Economy?,” 269–83.

47 Freyer and Morriss, “Creating Cayman as an Offshore Financial Center: Structure and Strategy since 1960.”

48 Connell, “The Cayman Islands,” 52.

49 Ogle, “Archipelago Capitalism,” 1445.

50 Andrew P. Morriss, “Creating Cayman: How the Cayman Islands Built a Financial Centre [sic],” Mondaq.com, June 24, 2014, http://www.mondaq.com/caymanislands/x/322822/offshore+financial+centres/Creating+Cayman (last accessed Sept. 7, 2018); Hudson, 276.

51 Robert W. Todd, “Impressive Record in Overseas Contracts,” Financial Times, Nov. 13, 1967; “A New Base for Foreign Companies and Trusts,” Financial Times, Feb. 6, 1969, 20.

52 Rosa Luxeumburg (1900) to Vanessa Ogle (2016), the literature on “world systems” remains the most well known, but an early pioneer of the relational understanding of the developed and underdeveloped world was Samir Amin, Accumulation on a World Scale; Samir Amin, Samir Amin: Pioneer of the Rise of the South. Springer Briefs on Pioneers in Science and Practice, vol. 16, ed. Hans Günter Brauch (New York: Springer Press, 2014), vi–vii.

53 “Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce,” Financial Times, Feb. 6, 1969, 20.

54 “The Cayman Islands,” Financial Times, Sept. 17, 1971, 29.

55 Binger, A Brief History of the Cayman Islands, 20.

56 “The Cayman Islands,” Financial Times, Sept. 17, 1971, 29.

57 “Pleasure & Profit in Cayman,” Financial Times, Feb. 6, 1969, 22.

58 “Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce,” Financial Times, Feb. 6, 1969, 20.

59 “The Cayman Islands,” Financial Times, Sept.17, 1971, 29.

60 Fichtner, Jan, “The Anatomy of the Cayman Islands Off-Shore Financial Center: Anglo-America, Japan, and the Role of Hedge Funds,” Review of International Political Economy 26:6 (Special Section on Shadow Banking, 2016): 1034–64.

61 John Bradley, “Modern Legislation Offers a Complete Tax Haven,” Financial Times, Feb. 6, 1969, 20.

62 Michael Brostek, “Cayman Islands: Business and Tax Advantages Attract U.S. Persons and Enforcement Challenges Exist,” Government Accountability Office (July 2008), 7; Fichtner, Jan, “The Rise of Hedge Funds: A Story of Inequality,” Momentum Quarterly 2:1 (2013): 320; Zucman, Gabriel, “The Missing Wealth of Nations: Are Europe and the U.S. Net Debtors or Net Creditors?,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128:3 (2013): 1321–64, 1357.

63 Jan Fichtner, “The Anatomy of the Cayman Islands Off-Shore Financial Center,” 1034–64.

64 Palan, “The Second British Empire,” 40–68.

65 Bedasse, Monique A., Jah Kingdom: Rastafarians, Tanzania, and Pan-Africanism in the Age of Decolonization (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

66 Ulf Hannerz, Caymanian Politics: Structure and Style in a Changing Island Society (1974), 147-149.

67 Hannerz, Caymanian Politics, 150.

68 “Grand Cayman Island,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 1971, 7.

69 “The Caribbean Sea,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 1969, 22.

70 International Monetary Fund, “Cayman Islands: Off-shore Financial Center Assessment Update: Assessment of Financial Sector Supervision and Regulation” (Dec. 2009), https://www.elibrary.imf.org/abstract/IMF002/10594-9781451809756/10594-9781451809756/10594-9781451809756_A001.xml? (last accessed Sept. 8, 2018).

71 The five larger financial centers are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, and Germany; Fichtner, “The Anatomy of the Cayman Islands Off-shore Financial Center.”

72 In 2000, the Financial Stability Forum named the Cayman Islands among twenty-five other offshore financial centers whose lack of transparency and supervision made them a “risk … to financial stability.” John Willman and Michael Peel, “Warning to Offshore Financial Centres,” Financial Times, May 26, 2000, 1.

73 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

74 Jared Hickman explains how notions of universal manhood rights were the first Promethean fire to come to the Caribbean, riding the revolutionary efforts of Haitians and scores of African-descended people. Hickman, , Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

75 Fichtner, “The Anatomy of the Cayman Islands Off-shore Financial Center.”

76 Michael Brostek, “Cayman Islands: Business and Tax Advantages Attract U.S. Persons and Enforcement Challenges Exist,” Government Accountability Office (July 2008), 2–3. Tax havens often see such concentrations of registered companies under one address. At 1209 Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware, some 285,000 different corporations “reside.”

77 David Sirota, “Why Does Betsy Devos's Family Yacht Fly a Foreign Flag?: Donald Trump's ‘America First Administration and the Cayman Islands,” Newsweek, Aug. 7, 2018.

78 John Chown, “Several Tax Havens to Choose From,” Financial Times, Mar. 30, 1972, 38.

79 Caufield, Mina Davis, “Taxes Tourists, and Turtlemen: Island Dependency and Tax Havens” in The World as Company Town, eds. Idris-Soven, A. et al. (Mouton: The Hague, 1978), 346.

80 O'Brien, Richard, Global Financial Integration: The End of Geography (London: Pinter Publishers, 1992).

81 Connell, “The Cayman Islands,” 62.

82 Clarke, Simon, Financial Aspects of Economic Sanctions on South Africa (Geneva: International University Exchange Fund, 1980), 49.

83 Connell, “The Cayman Islands,” 61.

84 For only 200 kilometers of road, Cayman in the early 1990s, had 14,300 cars; Connell, “The Cayman Islands,” 55, 61.

85 “Overdetermined from without” comes from Franz Fanon's “The Fact of Blackness” (1952). I reference it here to draw parallels between the Caymanian condition and the more general black condition under colonialism.

86 Piketty, Thomas, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 1.

87 Ogle, “Archipelago Capitalism.”

The Enduring, Gilded Periphery: Colonialism and Grand Cayman in Capital's Atlantic World

  • N. D. B. Connolly (a1)

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