Maps, Matricals, and material remains: An archaeological GIS of late-eighteenth-century historic sites on St. John, Danish West Indies

Douglas V. Armstrong, Mark W. Hauser, David W. Knight, Stephan Lenik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The steep and rugged landscape of St. John along with its irregular rainfall made it marginal to the capital interests of the Danish West Indies. While mercantile trade was central to the economy of St. Thomas and the plantation economy was well suited to St. Croix, the setting of St. John contributed to its peripheral role as a mixed plantation and provisioning economy. This marginality, in combination with the mixed motives and objectives of the Danish colony, produced a setting for social relations that have been described as an incomplete hegemony. This landscape facilitated the development of negotiated freedom for persons of color. In this chapter, we use GIS to integrate the documentary and archaeological records in order to reconstruct the social context of ownership and control in eighteenth-century St. John, Danish West Indies. We found that in the late eighteenth century, free persons of color on St. John took advantage of the relative flexibility in the Danish land-tenure system to establish informal and formal landholdings for themselves and their families in the less contested lands of St. John. This study uses historic maps and tax records (matricals) along with the material remains and ruins of archaeological sites to reconstruct cultural transitions and emerging venues for freedom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArchaeology and Geoinformatics
Subtitle of host publicationCase Studies from the Caribbean
PublisherThe University of Alabama Press
Pages99-126
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780817354701
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Armstrong, D. V., Hauser, M. W., Knight, D. W., & Lenik, S. (2008). Maps, Matricals, and material remains: An archaeological GIS of late-eighteenth-century historic sites on St. John, Danish West Indies. In Archaeology and Geoinformatics: Case Studies from the Caribbean (pp. 99-126). The University of Alabama Press.