Discovery of Plantation Row Housing on Cat Island, Bahamas

Author(s): Shannon Murphy

Year: 2016


Multiunit housing for enslaved populations was introduced to estates in the West Indies at the dawn of the nineteenth century during the broader British movement to improve habitations of both free and unfree rural laborers. Planters attempted to counter abolitionist criticism by installing housing that incorporated new layouts and more durable materials. Material culture studies of plantations in the Bahamian archipelago, however, have long recognized an absence of row house architecture. This has led to speculation that some recommendations of British reformers were not adopted in the Bahamian colony due to local conditions that were different from those of the sugar colonies. Recent surveys at Cove Creek and Golden Grove, two plantation sites on Cat Island, have at last revealed structures with floor plans and dimensions that are consistent with contemporaneous row house architecture in other parts of the British Caribbean. The evidence for row housing suggests that the Bahama Islands were not outside the influence of the agrarian reform movement. The findings force a reconsideration of previous claims about the role of agency and demography among the enslaved.

Cite this Record

Discovery of Plantation Row Housing on Cat Island, Bahamas. Shannon Murphy. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403496)


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Spatial Coverage

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