Social and Environmental Impacts of British Colonial Rum Production at Betty’s Hope Plantation, Antigua

  • E. Christian WellsEmail author
  • Charlotte Goudge
  • Anthony R. Tricarico
  • Reginald Murphy
  • Georgia L. Fox
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


Rum, a by-product of sugar production, has been a key element of social, cultural, political, and economic processes in the British Caribbean since its invention in the early seventeenth century. However, little is known about the social and ecological impacts of its manufacture. This chapter draws on the formal techniques of life cycle assessment (LCA) to better understand the consequences of rum production for human and environmental health. Drawing on archaeological research at the British sugar plantation, Betty’s Hope, in Antigua, the authors outline how different aspects of the production process, including raw material extraction, materials processing, and manufacture as well as the generation of wastes created unique environmental legacies that persist today. The authors conclude that British rum production was internally economically sustainable in terms of the production process but was not socially or environmentally sustainable. Given the unique configuration of British rum production, the authors suggest that similar industries in other parts of the Caribbean may have only had a life cycle of approximately one century, with social and environmental burdens contributing to the decline of individual industries.


Rum production Life cycle assessment Environmental impacts Human health Historical archaeology Antigua 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Christian Wells
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charlotte Goudge
    • 2
  • Anthony R. Tricarico
    • 1
  • Reginald Murphy
    • 3
  • Georgia L. Fox
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Heritage ResourcesNational Parks AntiguaSt. John’sAntigua and Barbuda
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyCalifornia State UniversityChicoUSA

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