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Archaeology of Domestic Landscapes of the Enslaved in the Caribbean$
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James A. Delle and Elizabeth C. Clay

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400912

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400912.001.0001

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Humanitarian Reform, Model Cottages, and the Habitational Landscape of Slavery on a Bahama Island

Humanitarian Reform, Model Cottages, and the Habitational Landscape of Slavery on a Bahama Island

Chapter:
(p.141) 7 Humanitarian Reform, Model Cottages, and the Habitational Landscape of Slavery on a Bahama Island
Source:
Archaeology of Domestic Landscapes of the Enslaved in the Caribbean
Author(s):

Allan D. Meyers

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9781683400912.003.0007

In the wake of the American Revolution, exiled British Loyalists transformed the landscapes of the Bahama Archipelago. They developed sprawling plantation complexes on outlying islands where only small or transient settlements had once existed. The estates housed communities of enslaved laborers, the ancestors of most present-day Bahamians. Recent surveys on Cat Island in the central Bahamas shed new light on the spatial organization and material elaboration of masonry dwellings for the enslaved, particularly during the second half of the Loyalist era (c. 1783–1838). In addition to single pen cabins and hall-and-parlor cottages, fieldwork has revealed structures with floor plans and dimensions that are consistent with contemporaneous row house architecture recommended by British labor reformers and adopted in other parts of the West Indies. These findings run counter to previous scholarly claims that row housing was not employed for slave habitation in the Bahamas colony. The current evidence suggests that, in an age of accelerating abolitionism, labor reform movements from the metropole influenced the design of Bahamian slave villages in hitherto unrecognized ways. These findings force a reconsideration of earlier propositions about the roles of slave agency and demography in the creation of creolized house forms.

Keywords:   Cat Island, Bahamas, Slave village, Reform movements, Row house

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