Postemancipation Bois Cotelette: An Update on Current Fieldwork

Author(s): Khadene Harris

Year: 2016


This paper is a summary of the ongoing analysis of artifacts and spatial data recovered from postemancipation house sites on the Bois Cotelette Estate in Dominica. This project began as an examination of the social and economic impact of emancipation on the lives of the formerly enslaved. The projects goal is to explore how a shift in labor conditions altered the physical layout of postemancipation settlements and determined the kinds of access individual households had to local and regional markets. Preliminary findings of three summers of fieldwork reveal very little diversity in artifact assemblages. Smaller assemblages can be explained by shorter occupation periods, natural erosion processes or that freedom did not necessarily provide laborers with greater opportunities to accumulate wealth. The lack of material culture however does beg a reconsideration of the methodological and theoretical associations that drive an interpretation of postemancipation social life. With this paper, I emphasize how artifacts on their own cannot answer fundamental questions we have of this time period. I point to the results of a mapping exercise used alongside the collection of oral histories from present-day residents and laborers to illustrate alternative interpretations of the impact of emancipation on the Bois Cotelette Estate.

Cite this Record

Postemancipation Bois Cotelette: An Update on Current Fieldwork. Khadene Harris. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403891)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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