Archaeologies of Colonialism and Everyday Life in the Indian Ocean World

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

This session draws together several case studies from the IOW that look at the experiences, environment and conditions of everyday life within colonial contexts, and engage with archaeology's dualistic role in understanding the complexities of the past and heritage in the present. Colonialism in the Indian Ocean world, on the surface, seems analogous to colonialism within the Atlantic world. The same European colonial powers established plantations and trading posts, often on remote islands, built by the labor of enslaved and indentured Africans, Chinese, and South/South East Asians. Yet, more than anything, the vast research and literature on the Atlantic has also taught us that there are a multitude of variables within each colonial context that make the experiences of both colonizers and the colonized distinct. These case studies are new explorations that offer unique comparisons for historical archaeologies that engage in particular with diaspora, indenture and post-slavery contexts.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Boundaries and Networks on the 19th Century Bras d’Eau Sugar Estate (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julia Haines. Saša Caval.

    This paper discusses research on the most complete and well-preserved 18th and 19th century sugar estate on Mauritius and how communities and identities were constituted under the conflicting conditions of both physical control and local/regional connectivity. Established in 1786, the Bras d’Eau Sugar Estate (now a national park) grew in the following century when the island shifted from French to British colonial rule. The slave trade and the institution of slavery were later abolished across...

  • Genetic impact of slavery abolition in Mauritius: Ancient DNA data from Le Morne and Bois Marchand cemeteries (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rosa Fregel. Martin Sikora. Krish Seetah. Hannes Schroeder. Carlos Bustamante.

    From a demographic point of view, the island of Mauritius can be considered a multicultural melting-pot derived from forced and free labor, as it was there where the British conducted the 'Great Experiment' to replace slaves with indentured workers after abolition. Despite the huge potential that Mauritius offers for studying admixed populations, it has remained uncharacterized from a genetic perspective until now. Several genetic markers have been analyzed in the current Mauritius population...

  • Gis, Heritage and Industrial Archaeology at Aapravasi Ghat (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diego Calaon.

    Between 2010 and 2013 an archaeological excavation was carried out in the warehouse where the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre on Indenture Labour (BRIC) has been set up. In the 19th century, the warehouse was located in the proximity of the "Hospital Block" and nearby the "Immigrants’ sheds" of the Immigration Depot. The excavation represented an exceptional opportunity to investigate the topography and the industrial development of a key area of Port Louis. The ceramic, glass and...

  • Makak: Between History and Heritage (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chip Colwell.

    This paper examines a "mythic" settlement named Makak, located at the edge of Le Morne Cultural Landscape, a World Heritage Site, in Mauritius. A recent ethnohistoric study, conducted in collaboration with Mauritian colleagues used an array of oral, written, and material evidence to show that Makak is an informal place name for an area first settled by French colonists in the 1700s, then by several prominent "Free Colored" families in the 1800s, and finally depopulated as residents were forcibly...

  • Objects past, objects present: materials, resistance and memory from the Le Morne Old Cemetery, Mauritius. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Krish Seetah.

    This presentation centres on two distinct material assemblages, both representing resistance, but in markedly different ways and at different times. It also introduces a new regional comparative of African religious syncretism, longanis, a belief system that developed within slave communities, and offers both insightful similarities to Atlantic counterparts, as well a unique features in its own right. The article, undertaking a first such appraisal for the Indian Ocean, applies an archaeological...

  • The price of freedom: health status in a freed slave community in Le Morne (18-19th centuries, Mauritius). (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jonathan Santana Cabrera. Jo Appleby. Krish Seetah.

    This contribution presents the preliminary results of an osteobiograhical approach to the life conditions of a slave/ex-slave population from Le Morne cemetery (18-19th centuries, Mautiritius Island). We evaluate the incidence of several stress indicators/pathologies on the human remains that are the result of environmental conditions during life. Dental health, infectious diseases and physical activity markers were analyzed to address the daily life of this population. Our results indicate high...

  • Silences and Mentions in the Historical Archaeology of the Indian Ocean: Themes for a New Research Agenda (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Lane.

    Research on the archaeology of the last five hundred years around the Indian Ocean rim is distinctly patchy. This contrasts with the body of material now available concerning earlier periods, and especially concerning the ear between ca. 500 BCE and 1500 CE. Where research has been undertaken this has tended to have had either a fairly local or at best limited regional focus. This has meant that many of the interconnections between different areas of the Indian Ocean have been left unexplored....