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Reconstructing a Changing Religious Landscape: The Material Traces of Barbados Quakers, 1655–1800

Abstract

Much has been written about the presence of Quakerism in slavery-era Barbados, but this body of work contains contradictions and broader trends in the development of this community remain obscure. Combining archaeological, historical, and cartographic information provides insight into the process of religious community formation and the relationship of Quakers to their Barbadian neighbors. Using ArcGIS, documentary records concerning the meetinghouses, burial grounds, and other material traces of the group are combined with a reconnaissance of the sites, high resolution satellite imagery, and contemporary maps. This synthesis aims to clarify and extend the written record, but more than just matters of historical interest, the identification of precise locations and layouts of these sites also offers keys to the group’s development, the archaeology of religious communities, and the social and physical landscape of the island.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for the work in Barbados was provided by the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I am very grateful for an imagery grant from the Digital Globe Foundation, and satellite images are used courtesy of the Digital Globe Foundation. My thanks to Martyn Bowden for discussions of Bridgetown’s historical geography, and to Douglas Armstrong, Celso Brewster, Kevin Farmer, Matthew Reilly, Claudia Walters, the staff at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society at the Garrison, at the Barbados National Archives at Black Rock, and at the Quaker Collection of Haverford College Library for assistance during and after my visit to Barbados. Any errors which remain are entirely my own.

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Chenoweth, J.M. Reconstructing a Changing Religious Landscape: The Material Traces of Barbados Quakers, 1655–1800. Int J Histor Archaeol 23, 462–495 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-018-0475-0

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Keywords

  • Religion
  • Quakerism
  • ArcGIS
  • Barbados
  • Satellite imagery