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Material Turns in Caribbean Archaeology

Author(s): Mark Hauser

Year: 2014

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Sidney Mintz and Richard Price famously observed that the central contradiction of race based slavery was that ‘slaves were legally defined as property; but being human they were called upon to act in sentient, articulate and human ways’ (Mintz and Price 1992: 25). This observation brings to light a central question that archaeologists concerned with the colonial Caribbean have been grappling with for the past two decades. During a time in which slavery was the dominant social form, what was the relationship between humans and things? Specifically I will map the networks and bundles associated with two settlements who began to grow and process sugar at the same time. Evidence will show that neither material networks nor bundles have the sufficient critical apparatus to describe the ways in which life worked in societies with asymmetrical social relations. Not all networks are recoverable, nor their content implicit. While in each settlement slavery had implications for people and things, and that those things involved with slavery (sugar, coffee, wedgewood pottery) were intertwined with humans in interesting ways; the implications were different for people and things.

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Material Turns in Caribbean Archaeology. Mark Hauser. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436630)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-7,20

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