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Henrice Altink
Professor in Modern History



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


Henrice Altink is Professor in Modern History and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC). She joined the department in 2004. Henrice has been actively involved with the Society for Caribbean Studies (SCS) for many years and is currently an executive member of the Social History Society and deputy editor of Women’s History Review. Henrice’s main research focuses on social inequalities in the Caribbean. She has worked extensively on gender during slavery and in the post-emancipation period and her more recent work focusses on race during the decolonisation period.

Her latest book looks at race and colour discrimination in Jamaica from 1918 till 1980. It not only maps the multiple and often covert forms of discrimination in a variety of settings – e.g. work, education, and law - but also explores how they were discussed and the extent to which they were contested.  Henrice has also worked on the history of medicine and health in the 20th-century Caribbean, in particular mental health, nutrition and TB and is expanding her research into the environmental history of the circum-Caribbean, paying particular attention to inequalities of class and race and ethnicity.



Henrice Altink's main research focuses on social inequalities in the 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.

Supported by a British Academy grant, her most recent book Public Secrets: Race and Colour in colonial and independent Jamaica (forthcoming, Liverpool University Press) looks at racial discrimination in Jamaica in the era of decolonisation (1918-1980). It not only maps the various forms of race and colour discrimination but also how race was talked about and the role that African Jamaicans themselves played in upholding hierarchies of race and colour. And it includes a chapter that assess the role of race and colour in present-day Jamaica and sets out some suggestions to create a more equal and just society. She has also published several articles on racial discrimination in Jamaica.

  •  ‘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)
  • ‘Facilitator or hindrance of social change? : The Westminster model and racial discrimination on the Jamaican labour Market, 1944-1980’, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 53, No. 1 (2015).
  • “Marrying light”: Skin Colour, Gender and Marriage in twentieth-century Jamaica’, The History of the Family (forthcoming, 2019). 

Henrice also has an interest in the history of medicine and health in the twentieth-century Caribbean, including mental health, nutrition and TB. With support from York’s Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders and the Rockefeller Archives, she has explored the treatment and control of tuberculosis in the colonial and independent Caribbean in her article 'Fight TB with BCG': mass vaccination campaigns in the British Caribbean, 1951-6’, Medical History, vol. 58, no. 4 (2014) and in ‘A Black Scourge?: Race and the Rockefeller’s Tuberculosis Commission in Interwar Jamaica’, História Ciência Saúde-Manguinhos, vol. 24, no. 4 (2018). And she has also worked on mental health and nutrition in the colonial and independent British Caribbean. She is CI on an AHRC-MRC (GCRF)-funded project on unhealthy eating in Kingston, Jamaica and has recently worked child malnutrition in the post-independence Caribbean. She has led a British Academy-funded international research network on public health and policy in Latin American and the Caribbean from 2013 till 2016 and was CI on a GCRF-funded project that used culture and history to create better strategies to enhance the resilience of communities on Colombia’s Caribbean coast in the face of man-made and natural disaster. Currently she runs an AHRC(GRCF)-funded international research network on risk and resilience in the coastal Caribbean and is CI on a NERC-AHRC-funded project on the Colombian Paramos. Henrice is also co-director of York’s Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre.


Henrice Altink would welcome inquiries from those interested in postgraduate research into the history of the circum-Caribbean (especially the 20th century) specifically and the history of development more generally. 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
  • The Aborigenes Protection Society
  • Race in Museums.
  • African students at Historical Black Colleges and Universities during the era of decolonisation. 

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 (e-)monographs on Caribbean history, it contains parliamentary papers which provide a wealth of information on the British Caribbean during both slavery and freedom. Various libraries and archives in London also hold information relating to the British Caribbean, including the British Library, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and The National Archives. In recent years, several Caribbean newspapers have put their archives online, such as the Jamaican Gleaner which goes back to 1834. And the still growing Digital Library of the Caribbean also holds some newspapers such as Abeng, a Black Power Movement paper, as well as a host of other relevant visual and textual sources.  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.




Contact details

Professor Henrice Altink
Vanbrugh College V/N/203
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2989, External (01904) 322989

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