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From Cane to Provisions: Spatial Organization of Cultivation and Processing on Jamaican Sugar Estates

Author(s): Lynsey Bates

Year: 2014

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Summary

Estate owners throughout the Atlantic World employed various strategies of plantation landscape management to maximize the profitability of cash crop production. In the British colony of Jamaica, contemporary planters and travelers identified numerous principles for sugar estate organization, four of which are quantified and analyzed in this paper, namely cultivation suitability (slope and soil quality), centrality, proximity, and visibility. By evaluating these principles through the integration of historic plats and modern topographic data, this paper examines how planters balanced the demands of sugar production with the control of a large workforce through the ordering of space. From this baseline, the analysis focuses on the conditions that enslaved people exploited within the provision ground system, an institutionalized subsistence scheme undertaken during ‘off-time,’ primarily on surrounding land. Variability in planter-imposed organization across a sample of eighteenth century estates suggests potential spatial factors that improved or diminished enslaved peoples’ cultivation of surplus foodstuffs on provision grounds.


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From Cane to Provisions: Spatial Organization of Cultivation and Processing on Jamaican Sugar Estates. Lynsey Bates. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436600)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-6,08

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America