Henrice Altink
Reader in Modern History



 BA (Zwolle), MA (Nijmegen / Lancaster), PhD (Hull)


Henrice Altink is a Reader in Modern History at the History Department. She joined the History Department in 2004 after having worked for four years at the University of Glamorgan (Wales).


She has worked extensively on representations of Jamaican slave women and has recently completed a book on the construction of ideologies of womanhood in post-emancipation Jamaica. She is currently working on the methods by which a class/colour hierarchy was sustained in the British Caribbean from emancipation till independence.

She has been actively involved with the Society for Caribbean Studies (SCS) for many years and currently coordinates its Caribbean Research Seminars in the North.

Henrice is also an executive member of the Social History Society.



Henrice Altink's main research focuses on racial inequalities in the British Caribbean. Her first book Representations of Slave Women in Discourses on Slavery and Abolition, 1780-1838 came out of her PhD and examined representations of Jamaican slave women in pro- and antislavery writings.

Her second book Destined for a Life of Service: Defining African Jamaican Womanhood, 1865-1938 also explores race's intersection with gender. Drawing upon a wide range of primary materials, including court testimonies, folk tales, and oral history, it looks at the lives of the second-generation of African-Jamaican women born in freedom, in particular their engagement with messages about marriage, motherhood, sexuality, work and citizenship.

This book was made possible with grants from the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a fellowship from the Five Colleges Women's Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoake College, USA.


Supported by a British Academy grant, Henrice Altink is currently researching a monograph that looks at racial discrimination in Jamaica in the era of decolonisation (1918-1962). It not only maps the methods by which the colonial government discriminated against African Jamaicans but also the ways in which African Jamaicans themselves were implicated in a system that defined them as second-class citizens.  

Henrice Altink has presented on this new research at various conferences, including:

  • Annual conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, Oxford, July 2012.
  • ‘Generation to generation’, Social Science History Association, November 2011, Boston (USA).
  • ‘Rethinking the modern’, Birmingham Midland Institute, July 2011.
  • ‘Generations’, Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 2011, Amherst (USA).
  • Annual conference of the Society for Social History, Manchester University, April 2011.
  • ‘The victim and the organiser’, Keele University, January 2011.

And this new research has also provided the basis for two articles:

  • ‘A True Maverick: The Political Career of Dr Oswald E. Anderson, 1919-1944’. New West Indian Guide vol. 87, nos 3-4. (2013).
  • ‘Modernity, Race and Mental Health Care in Jamaica, c. 1918-1944’. Journal of the Department of Behavioural Studies (e-journal UWI St Augustine) http://journals.sta.uwi.edu/jbs/index.asp

As for her minor research interests, with support from York’s Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders she is undertaking a project that examines the treatment and control of tuberculosis in the colonial and independent Caribbean, focussing in particular in Jamaica. And she is also working on nutritional guidelines and surveys in the colonial and independent British Caribbean.   

And in previous years, Henrice Altink has looked at construction of a national identity in the Dutch island of Sint Maarten, compared ideas about interracial marriage by African Caribbean and African-American race thinkers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, examined two projects carried out by the American Eugenics Record Office in Jamaica in the 1910s and 1920s, and is currently researching the life of Joel August Rogers, a Jamaican-American journalist, writer and historian. Her work displays a commitment to interdisciplinary work, combining history in particular with literary studies.

Henrice Altink has organised several departmental conferences, including:  

  • The Politics of Food, 2013.
  • Empire and Development, 2011.
  • Femininities: Cultural History Conference, 2010.
  • Abolition 1807-2007, 2007


Henrice Altink would welcome inquiries from those interested in postgraduate research into the history of the British Caribbean (especially the 19th and 20th centuries) and African-American history (in particular Antebellum slavery and the Jim Crow era and proto-civil rights). Those with an interest in the migration of Caribbean people to the UK and in the interaction between gender, race and sexuality in the modern period are also encouraged to contact her.

Selection of MA dissertations supervised:

  • Education in post-war Trinidad
  • The 1937 labour riots in Trinidad
  • The politics of hiphop
  • Black masculinity during slavery
  • Land settlement schemes in Jamaica, 1895-97
  • Slave resistance in Columbia
  • The Aborigenes Protection Society
  • The shift from gradual to immediate emancipation
  • Black British abolitionists

Resources available for research students in York

The J.B. Morrell library provides an excellent starting point for the history of the British Caribbean. Besides surveys of Caribbean history and monographs on Caribbean slavery, it contains parliamentary papers which provide a wealth of information on the British Caribbean during both slavery and freedom. The next step is to search for materials on Caribbean Abstracts, an online bibliographical tool. Much of the material that you find on this database is held at the British Library. The Institute of Commonwealth Studies holds both relevant primary and secondary material. The National Archives in London are the best place for records that explore the history of the relationship between the Caribbean colonies and the Imperial Government. Thus far scholars have paid scant attention to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Colonial Office papers, which provide a wealth of information, including materials that provide an insight into the lives of African Caribbean peoples. For other places that hold (primary and secondary) materials on various aspects of Caribbean history, see Casbah, an easy-to-search database that lists all the places in the UK that hold materials on the history of Black and Asian people in the UK. In recent years, several Caribbean newspapers have put their archives online, such as the Jamaican Gleaner which goes back to 1834. Henrice Altink has used the national archives and libraries in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and the archival collection of the University of the West Indies and can provide you with contacts at these institutions. She can also provide information about the use of Dutch archives for the study of the British Caribbean during slavery.




Contact details

Dr Henrice Altink
Vanbrugh College V/218
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2989, External (01904) 322989