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PhD Defence

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

  • R.E. Espersen
Thursday 9 February 2017
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


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.


  • Prof. C.L. Hofman


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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