Capitalism and Cloves: East African Historical Archaeology

  • Sarah K. CroucherEmail author


This chapter concludes the book by tying together the way in which Zanzibari clove plantations play out a narrative of local histories of colonialism and capitalist formations. In some ways, this study is particularistic; the findings in this book relate to a specific historical context, quite unlike that studied by the majority of historical archaeologists. But these specificities cannot be disengaged from the fact that the shifts occurring were also tied in to global networks. Zanzibaris themselves were often aware of such networks, but their power may have been more often felt through the ways in which local practices came into contact with multiple possible ways of doing. Clove plantations came into being only because this crop could be grown for a global market, only because Omani merchants were already on the islands of Zanzibar, and only because there was already a significant slave trade in Eastern Africa. The social relations and cultural shifts on these plantations can be understood within larger global shifts in colonial contexts, whereby newly creolized cultural practices came into being. This chapter argues that by being simultaneously so rooted in local conditions and so much a part of global connections, clove plantations allow for reflections back on the broader field of historical archaeology. In turn, this may allow for a clearer understanding of the particularities of colonialism and capitalism in many different places, including those more traditionally the subject of study in this field.


Globalization Global historical archaeology Coeval African Diaspora archaeology Modernity Capitalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA

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