Industrial Transformations:  Plantation Labour in Antigua after Emancipation

Author(s): Genevieve Godbout

Year: 2013


The relation between Caribbean plantation economies and the modern ideology, particularly as regard the dominant narrative about the so-called Industrial Revolution, presents a conundrum to scholars of the British Empire.  Plantation economies are often depicted as simultaneously hyper-modernity and anachronistically backwards: their reliance on slave labour is coupled with a highly specialized and systematized tasks; the minimal mechanization of their labour through the 1860s nevertheless fosters scientific experimentation with sugar-making technologies. Emancipation (1834) further complicates the relation of plantation economies to global narrative and, perhaps because of its awkward scale, the history of plantation societies in the later decades of the nineteenth-century tend to be neglected by archaeologists. This paper proposes an archaeological look at practices and material conditions involved in the production of sugar in Antigua, West Indies, from 1860 to 1900, particularly in regard to labour and the role of human-machine interfaces in developing the modern sensorium. 

Cite this Record

Industrial Transformations:  Plantation Labour in Antigua after Emancipation. Genevieve Godbout. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428464)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 246