Plantation Landscapes and the Rise of a Free Black Population on St. Lucia
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.
Florida Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.