Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Island Networks

The focus of this programme is the inter-community social relationships and transformations of island networks in the Lesser Antilles across the historical divide.

Corinne Hofman

The period AD 1000-1800 represents an archaeologically understudied, and turbulent era, during which the archipelago’s inhabitants came under increasing influence from South America and the Greater Antilles and participated in the last phase of indigenous resistance to colonial powers. The region is ideal for this research because of

  1. its geographic location as a chain of islands between the landmasses of the South American mainland and the Greater Antilles thus serving as a conduit for interaction and exchange; 
  2. its continuous Amerindian occupation from 6000 BC until the 18th century;
  3. the dynamic situation of colonial encounters which was the locus of Amerindian-European-African interactions.

Caribbean research has focused on patterns of regional and pan-regional mobility of peoples and the exchange of goods and ideas during the pre-colonial period (pre-1492). Recent investigations by Prof. dr Hofman and her team have for the first time provided insights into early colonial period indigenous archaeology in the Lesser Antilles through the discovery of 16-18th century Amerindian settlements and associated material culture repertoires. These discoveries offer the unique possibility to study continuity and change of inter-community social relationships and transformations of island networks at the advent of European colonialism.

This research utilizes state-of-the-art methods and techniques and updated theoretical perspectives from archaeology, ethnohistory, biogeochemistry, archaeometry and social network analysis that will offer the prospect of significant synergy in three interlocking subprojects. The multi-disciplinary approach will advance novel perspectives to the study of intercultural dynamics in colonial encounter situations worldwide. On a local Caribbean level, this programme contributes to the historical awareness and valorisation of cultural heritage in a geopolitically diverse islandscape, with an archaeological record that is under threat from natural disasters and infrastructural development.

Related research

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