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‘This Islande is Inhabited with all Sortes’1: The Archaeology of Creolisation in Speightstown, Barbados, and Beyond, AD 1650–1900

  • Niall Finneran (a1)


Studies of creole material cultures in historical archaeological frameworks in the Americas and Caribbean from the sixteenth century onwards emphasise the diversity and dynamism of cultural traits that are rooted in a range of different backgrounds: indigenous, African and European. Using a case study based upon recent historical and multidisciplinary archaeological research in north-western Barbados, this paper seeks to chart the development of a distinct vernacular Barbadian creole material culture over the period 1650–1900. It is argued here that the evolution of a strong and characteristic local cultural identity, as evidenced by recent archaeological research, counters the usual perception, common among historians of the period, that the plantocracy and its associated agents merely sought to reproduce English culture in the tropics. In fact the cultural picture as presented here is far more nuanced, and has implications for wider historical archaeological studies in the region.

Les études des cultures matérielles créoles menées dans les cadres de l'archéologie historique aux Amériques et dans les Caraïbes à partir du XVIe siècle soulignent la diversité et le dynamisme de leurs traits culturels d'origines très diverses: indigène, africaine et européenne. S'appuyant sur une étude de cas basée sur des recherches archéologiques historiques et pluridisciplinaires récentes menées au nord-ouest de la Barbade, cet article tente de retracer le développement d'une culture matérielle créole vernaculaire distincte à la Barbade durant la période 1650–1900. Il soutient que cette évolution d'une identité culturelle locale vigoureuse et caractéristique attestée par les recherches archéologiques récentes contredit la perception habituelle répandue parmi les historiens de cette période que la plantocratie et les agents qui lui étaient associés cherchaient seulement à reproduire la culture anglaise dans les Tropiques. En fait, le tableau brossé ici sur cette culture, beaucoup plus nuancé, a des implications pour les études d'archéologie historique plus générales sur la région.

In den Studien kreolischer Sachkulturen seit dem 16. Jahrhundert in historisch-archäologischem Rahmen in Nord- und Südamerika und der Karibik werden Vielfalt und Dynamik der kulturellen Merkmale ganz besonders betont, die ihre Wurzeln in verschiedenen Hntergründen einheimischer, afrikanischer und europäischer Art haben. Anhand einer Fallstudie, die auf einem vor kurzem im Nordwesten von Barbados durchgeführten historischen und multidisziplinären archäologischen Forschungsprojekt basiert, wird in dieser Abhandlung versucht, die Entwicklung einer individuellen einheimischen kreolischen Sachkultur von Barbados über einen Zeitraum von 1650–1900 darzustellen. Es wird hier argumentiert, dass diese in den neuesten archäologischen Forschungen nachgewiesene Entwicklung einer ausgeprägten charakteristisch lokalen kulturellen Identität der unter den zeitgenössischen Historikern allgemein geltenden Anschauung widerspricht, dass die Plantokratie und die mit ihr verbundenen Vertreter lediglich bemüht waren, die englische Kultur in die Tropen zu verpflanzen. In der Tat ist das hier dargestellte kulturelle Bild wesentlich differenzierter und wird Auswirkungen auf die breiteren historisch-archäologischen Studien in der Region haben.



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London, British Library, Sloane ms 3926.



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‘This Islande is Inhabited with all Sortes’1: The Archaeology of Creolisation in Speightstown, Barbados, and Beyond, AD 1650–1900

  • Niall Finneran (a1)


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