Sexual desires, rights and regulation
Sex has been at the heart of the Caribbean experience at least from the moment of colonial encounter. (It may have well been at the heart of the pre-colonial Caribbean experience too, but we don’t yet seem to know enough to confidently make this claim). Anxieties and fears about the sexual proclivities of the region’s Indigenous peoples, and later, the African and Indian migrants brought in to labour the land, haunted the imaginations of colonialism’s agents. European colonizers feared that the sexual desires of these Others, as well as their desires for Others, would result in interracial sex and reproduction and ultimately threaten notions of white racial purity. Regulation of sexual desires and practices was therefore a key component of processes of colonization, and forcefully institutionalized through laws governing family structure, partnerships, prostitution and sex. In the aftermath of official European retreat from much of the region, this determined disciplining of sex was not relaxed. Instead, post-independence reforms often further restricted sexual diversity and liberty, and the regulation of sexuality proliferated as new national and regional forms of governmentality developed across the Caribbean.