Afterlives of Slavery on the Post-Emancipation Caribbean Plantation

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Archaeologists working in the Caribbean region have explored plantation spaces with a keen eye toward the daily lives of enslaved persons under the brutal and dehumanizing regimes of power of plantation slavery. Sorely overlooked, however, are examinations of plantations with an explicit focus on the post-emancipation period (1834 and after). After the abolition of slavery, the active landscape of the plantation underwent significant changes that deserve careful attention in exploring the formations that continued to affect the lives of those tethered, physically or psychically, to these spaces of former enslavement. Contributors to this session explore different elements of the post-emancipation Caribbean plantation to provide insights into how these agro-industrial spaces continue(d) their dramatic effects on those most familiar with their contours, as well as colonial logics of race, labor, gender, civility, and modernity in the post-slavery era.

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  • Documents (9)

  • Afterlives of Slavery on the Post-Emancipation Caribbean Plantation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Reilly. Genevieve Godbout.

    This paper offers some opening remarks that introduce the conceptual framework informing this session. A rich body of archaeological literature has investigated plantation slavery in the Caribbean region, but far less attention has been paid to the post-emancipation landscape and the significant transformations that affected the lives of laborers. We seek to address how a focus on the post-emancipation Caribbean plantation landscape can provide unique insights into how notions of freedom were...

  • Archaeologies of the After-lives of Slavery (Discussant Comments) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Theresa Singleton.

    Discussion of the themes raised in the  papers presented in this session.

  • Caribbean Colonialism and Space Archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Chenoweth. Mark Salvatore. Laura Bossio.

    The analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery to aid archaeological understanding, or "Space Archaeology" as it is sometimes called, presents a largely untapped set of methodologies for historical archaeological work.  This project makes use of Normalized Differential Vegetation Indexes (NDVI) calculated on high-resolution satellite images of the British Virgin Islands.  These data are combined with historic maps to analyze the different productive potentials of different plantations and...

  • Diverse Dining: Post-Emancipation Foodways in Antigua, West Indies (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexis K Ohman.

    The role of zooarchaeology and foodways in plantation archaeology has aided in teasing out the details of daily life and shifting sociocultural habits during the colonial period. Plantation archaeology has also had a distinct focus on the African diaspora communities. However, the post-Emancipation period complicates the narrative even further as new ethnic communities were brought or drawn to the new labor requirements of plantations at this time. Post-Emancipation Antigua saw an influx of...

  • Freedom Come: The Archaeology of Postemancipation Life in Dominica (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Khadene K Harris.

    Archaeological interest in postemancipation life on plantations has received significantly less attention than those dating before emancipation. The resulting neglect misses several opportunities to unveil the complexities of postemancipation social and economic life and the impact of full freedom on the material and spatial practices of formerly enslaved individuals. I show how both planters and free people reorganized their physical surroundings and what this reorganization can reveal about...

  • From Field to Faubourg: Race, Labor, and Craft Economies in Nineteenth-Century Creole New Orleans (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher M. Grant.

    The effects of the Haitian Revolution on the city of New Orleans have been the subject of historical inquiry for several decades. Scholars have detailed the political and cultural transformations that were set into motion when some 10,000 refugees arrived in the port city from the Saint-Domingue. While it is acknowledged that they contributed heavily to everyday practices in New Orleans, the extent to which the refugees - and free people of color in particular - actively sought to preserve the...

  • Life after Sugar: an Archaeology of the First Generation Post-emancipation in St. Peter’s Parish, Montserrat (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Krysta Ryzewski. John F. Cherry. Laura McAtackney.

    In the first generation after emancipation Montserrat and its residents experienced exceptional difficulties. As the society transitioned from a sugar-based economy, former slaves, estate owners, and colonial authorities collectively struggled with the devastating effects of man-made and natural disasters, including a major earthquake in 1843, and a wide range of social, economic, and legal problems. This paper examines archaeological and historical evidence from St Peter’s Parish, the...

  • "No lovlier sight": Tracing the Post-Emancipation Lime Industry on Montserrat and Dominica (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samantha Ellens.

    In the second half of the 19th-century, Montserrat citrus limes were world famous, appearing regularly in British advertisements and utilized in the global perfume and beverage markets. But the ways in which this industry impacted the lives of Montserrat’s formerly enslaved laborers has yet to be clearly understood. Preliminary research for a landscape survey of Montserrat, utilizing a comparative approach with Dominica, is presented. As in the case of Montserrat, lime agriculture on Dominica...

  • Remaining on the Estate: Post-Emancipation Tenantry at St. Nicholas Abbey Sugar Plantation, St. Peter, Barbados (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Frederick Smith.

    Archaeological investigations at St. Nicholas Abbey sugar plantation, St. Peter, Barbados are providing new insights into the changes that occurred in Barbados during the transition from slavery to freedom. In the late eighteenth century, members of St. Nicholas Abey's enslaved population lived in a village surrounded by sugarcane fields on Crab Hill. Many of the former enslaved workers remained at Crab Hill during the tenatry period that followed emancipation in 1834. Archaeological evidence...