Boundaries and Networks on the 19th Century Bras d’Eau Sugar Estate

Author(s): Julia Haines; Saša Caval

Year: 2015


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 the British Empire, though industrial sugar production increased. Indian indentured laborers with different castes, religions and skill sets, came to Mauritius to work on plantations. Vagrancy laws were designed to reengage laborers legally to plantations beyond their five-year contracts. Preliminary research at Bras d’Eau revealed extensive road and railway networks, and the ruins of industrial structures, enclosure walls and houses. Roads are positioned as both passages and boundary markers that divide, for example, living quarters from industrial workspaces and cultivated areas. I argue that space on the plantation was simultaneously controlled by wall and road boundaries and strategically connected to intern and external exchange networks. Within this context, archaeological research will help us to understand the diversity of identities performed in the past.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Boundaries and Networks on the 19th Century Bras d’Eau Sugar Estate. Julia Haines, Saša Caval. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397138)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;