Archaeologies

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 87–109

An Archaeology of Modernity in Colonial Jamaica

Research

Abstract

The rise of modernity in Europe resulted in the redefinition of social relations between those in control of the apparatus of the state and economy on the one hand, and those who worked and lived within that apparatus on the other. This shift in the definition of the basic social unit from subject to individual citizen was fraught with tension, and resulted in vast changes in the lives of colonized people throughout the European sphere of control. While the material manifestations of these historical processes were many, this article considers how two phenomena associated with modernity impacted the lives of people enslaved at Marshall’s Pen, a Jamaican coffee plantation, in the opening decades of the 19th century. These two considerations included the spread of mass-produced goods mediated through the rise of consumerism visible through archaeologically recovered material culture, and shifting definitions of the relationships between space and social organization reflecting in changing settlement patterns of village life.

Resumen

La expansión de la modernidad en Europa redefinió las relaciones sociales entre quienes controlaban el aparato estatal y la economía y quienes trabajaban y vivían dentro de ese aparato. Este cambio en la definición de la unidad social básica, de sujeto a ciudadano individual, estuvo plagado de tensión y produjo vastas transformaciones en las vidas de los pueblos colonizados en la esfera de control europeo. Las manifestaciones materiales de estos procesos históricos fueron muchas; este artículo considera cómo dos fenómenos asociados con la modernidad impactaron en las vidas de las personas esclavizadas en Marshall’s Pen, una plantación jamaiquina de café, en las primeras décadas del siglo XIX: la difusión de bienes producidos en masa, mediada por el consumismo visible en la cultura material arqueológica; y las definiciones cambiantes de las relaciones entre espacio y organización social, reflejadas en los cambios de los patrones de asentamiento de las aldeas.

Résumé

La redéfinition des relations sociales, entre d’un côté, ceux qui contrôlent l’appareil de l’état et de l’économie, et de l’autre, ceux qui travaillent et vivent dans cet appareil, est le résultat de la montée de la modernité en Europe. Ce changement dans la définition de l’unité de base du social, d’un sujet à un citoyen individuel, a été rempli de tension et a résulté en des changements importants dans la vie des colonisés dans toute la zone contrôlée par l’Europe. Alors que les manifestations matérielles de ces processus historiques ont été nombreuses, cet article considère comment deux phénomènes associés à la modernité ont eut un impact sur la vie des esclaves de la plantation de café jamaïcaine Marshall’s Pen, dans les première décennies du 19ième siècle. Ces deux considérations incluent la dispersion de produits de masse, véhiculés par la monté de la consommation et visible à travers la culture matérielle archéologique, ainsi que l’évolution des définitions des relations, entre espace et organisation sociale, visible dans le changement du mode d’établissement relatif à l’organisation de la vie villageoise.

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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyKutztown University of PennsylvaniaKutztownUSA

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