The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 53, Issue 1

Article 1
“Being at a Feast and Drinking to Excess”: Hospitality and Patriarchal Manhood in Early Barbados

Eric J. McDonald


Through the seventeenth century, wealthy Barbadian slaveholders engaged in an ostentatious culture of eating and drinking. Feasts formed the primary setting for social and political interactions. This article utilizes the construct of “patriarchal manhood” to examine the way hospitality supported elite male authority on the island. It seeks to broaden our understanding of how gender buttressed power structures in slave societies, arguing that feasts were performances of manhood that helped impose and legitimize the dominance of early Barbadian planters.