Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Archaeological legacies of slavery in the Caribbean

Tuesday 7 February 2017
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden

This symposium takes place on account of the PhD defence of Ryan Espersen.


13.30  Introduction by Prof. Dr. Corinne Hofman

13.50 Presentation by Prof. Dr. Douglas Armstrong

14.15 Presentation by Dr. Mark Hauser:

The environmental considerations of plantation slavery and sugar production

This paper takes into account how variation in environmental and social conditions shaped the domestic economy of the enslaved. Little work has been done on the political ecology of sugar colonies in the Caribbean. Because the domestic economy of slave households was at the intersection of the environment, political economy, and culture, this research can potentially contribute to an understanding of the contemporary Caribbean and the challenges it faces.

14.45 Break

15.15 Presentation by Dr. Jay Haviser

'Legacies of Syncretism and Cognition: African and European Religious and Aesthetic Expressions in the Caribbean.

15.35 Presentation by Dr. Hannes Schroeder

Before slavery: New evidence for an early African presence in the Americas.

History books suggest that the first Africans arrived in the Americas with the slave trade, which transported over 12 million Africans to the American colonies between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that Africans may have arrived in the New World much earlier than previously thought. In this talk I discuss the evidence for an early African presence in the Americas, and more specifically the Caribbean, and discuss the implications of those findings for our understanding of the history of people of African descent in the Americas.

15.55 Presentation by Ryan Espersen:

"Better Than We": Landscapes and Materialities of Race, Class, and Gender in Pre-Emancipation Colonial Saba, Dutch Caribbean.

This research strives to reveal how ideologies of race, class, and gender manifested in the social, physical, and material landscapes of pre-emancipation colonial Saba, Dutch Caribbean.  Race, class, and gender serve as facets and vectors for ideology.  By viewing them as processes, their capacity to express such through their social and material environments inextricably tied to their particular temporal and spatial contexts.

Through comparisons of the social and material environments of multiple, contemporaneous social contexts within Saba, common social and material vectors among these ideological facets can become apparent.  This work diverges from similar, previous research in that it undertakes a post-colonial approach to study the dialectics involved between locally-based, culturally-derived abstractions of class, race, and gender, and the materiality which resulted from these relationships.  The social and geographic realities of Saba make such an approach feasible, and the social and material database derived from this research permits insights into a range of issues of concern to historical archaeologists.  In particular, this concerns: 

  • How tensions between the “incomplete hegemony” of colonial authorities and plantation agriculture with Saban residents resulted in a dialectic between local landscapes, materiality, and ideologies of race, class, and gender.
  • Differentiating between slavery, free poverty, and low class in the archaeological record.
  • The dialectic between scale, locality, and perspective in defining and situating class and poverty.

17.00 Drinks at Het Keizertje (See here for location)

This website uses cookies.  More information.