Archaeological and historical research at Seville Plantation, Jamaica, are used to explain changes in settlement patterns within the estate's African Jamaican community between 1670 and the late nineteenth century. Sugar plantations, such as Seville, are marked by well-defined spatial order hased upon economic and power relations that was imposed upon enslaved communities by planters and managers. Archaeological evidence is used to explore how enslaved Africans modified this imposed order and redefined boundaries in ways that correspond with the development of a distinct African Jamaican society. The rigidly defined linear housing arrangements initially established hy the planter, and their relations to the Great House, sugar works, and fields, were reinterpreted by the enslaved residents of the village to create a degree of autonomy and freedom from constant surveillance that was at odds with the motives of the planter class. These changes occurred within the spatial parameters established by the planter, yet they reflect dynamic and creative social processes that resulted in the emergence of an African Jamaican community.
Published in Ethnohistory, Volume 47, Issue 2, Spring 2000, pages 369-397.
© 2000 by the American Society for Ethnohistory and Duke University Press