Foundations of a Community: The Synagogue Compound in Early Modern Barbados

Author(s): Derek Miller

Year: 2014


Studies of diasporic peoples often highlight their global connections. Moreover, diasporic peoples are always dispersed from somewhere. However, despite this emphasis on global connections and movement away from a homeland, diasporic peoples also create particular places in local settings. These places play an important role in the maintenance of diasporic cultural traditions and identity. In the 1650s a group of Jews arrived on the English island of Barbados and established a small practicing Jewish community. This community centered on the synagogue compound. The synagogue compound was a small pocket of space defined and structured by the religious and cultural traditions of the Jews as opposed to the dominant English Anglicans. Furthermore, when first established, the synagogue compound was the center of not only Jewish religious activities but also Jewish social and economic activities. Drawing upon both excavated data and the surviving tombstones, this paper explores the important role that material places play in the formation and maintenance of a Jewish diasporic community during the early modern period.

Cite this Record

Foundations of a Community: The Synagogue Compound in Early Modern Barbados. Derek Miller. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436786)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-23,03