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Archaeologies of Slavery and Freedom in the CaribbeanExploring the Spaces in Between$
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Lynsey Bates, John M. Chenoweth, and James A. Delle

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400035

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400035.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

Beyond Sugar

Beyond Sugar

Plantation Landscapes and the Rise of a Free Black Population on St. Lucia

(p.129) 6 Beyond Sugar
Archaeologies of Slavery and Freedom in the Caribbean

Jane I. Seiter

University Press of Florida

Much has been written about the “sugar revolution” sweeping the islands of the Caribbean in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Recent work by archaeologists, however, has challenged this overarching narrative. On the island of St. Lucia, a program of landscape survey joined with a close analysis of maps and census records has revealed a very different pattern of landscape development. Underneath the remains of vast sugar estates with their monumental surviving architecture—the curing and boiling houses, lime kilns, windmills and water wheels—lies evidence of an earlier phase of small-scale plantations growing a surprising diversity of crops. Building on a legacy of subsistence agriculture inherited from the Amerindians, European settlers on St. Lucia carved out a patchwork of small holdings cultivating cotton, cocoa, coffee, tobacco, ginger, cassava, indigo, and bananas. The comparative absence of large sugar plantations allowed people without much capital to purchase and develop land, creating new opportunities for free people of color to amass wealth and gain political power. The emergence of this class of free black landowners had a profound impact on St. Lucian society, which in turn greatly affected the larger political struggles that rocked the Caribbean in the late eighteenth century.

Keywords:   sugar revolution, St. Lucia, free black landowners

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