At the Edge: Jamaican Amerindians and the Colonial Encounter.


This paper presents a new study of archaeological sites, collections and historical documents to bring to light a poorly known chapter in the Caribbean colonial encounters: the interactions of Jamaican Amerindians with the Spanish, and later British and Maroons.

The island of Jamaica held a special position in the Spanish colonial empire, due to its peripheral position in in the global shipping and trade networks that emerged in the early Spanish main and a lack of the precious metals that were so important to the colonial endeavor. Yet even before the colonial encounters Jamaica and its Amerindian population occupied a singular position in the greater regional interaction sphere.

The unique social and cultural character of the island across the historical divide has previously meant that its position in regional archaeological debates was once again peripheral. Based on archaeological and historical investigations in north-central Jamaica, we address some notable characteristics of the Amerindian role in the colonial encounters on the island. Jamaican Amerindian negotiation, integration and resistance formed a crucial survival mechanism in the colonial period, and despite appearances, to this day Amerindian heritage is still strongly represented in the island.

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At the Edge: Jamaican Amerindians and the Colonial Encounter.. Angus Mol, Lesley-Gail Atkinson, Hayley Mickleburgh. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398223)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;