Land, Labor, and Freedom on the Bois Cotlette Estate, Dominica, after 1838
After emancipation, land and the economic opportunities connected with landownership were important in individuals’ decisions about where to go and what to do. For this reason, the postemancipation period – much like its antecedent – is extraordinarily significant in terms of understanding how various territories in the Caribbean were reconstituted and became what they are today. The purpose of this paper is to examine changes that occurred on a Dominican plantation after 1838 using archaeological data, and by so doing, casting new light on the distinctive character of postemancipation life. I attempt to understand these shifts by focusing on the built environment and the changing use of space over time. Along with archaeological evidence, I engage with historical documents and ethnographic data to illustrate the preoccupations of the planter class during the postemancipation period and the ways in which the newly-freed Dominicans sought to exercise control over their own time and labor.
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