The Spatialities of Coffee Plantations in the Yallahs River Drainage 1790–1834
During the eighteenth century, the conditions of life for the great majority of people in Jamaica, both enslaved and free, were influenced by the production and distribution of sugar. As was the case in most British colonies that relied on monocrop production, fluctuations in world markets for this commodity affected those involved in its production. In the closing decades of the eighteenth century, changes in the global logic of capitalism began to effect changes in the political economy and social landscape of Jamaica. These were decades of crisis for the plantation economy of Jamaica. Among the interesting socioeconomic phenomena that resulted from this crisis was the rapid florescence — and equally rapid abandonment — of large-scale, estate-based coffee production. This florescence was marked by a brief coffee boom that began around the turn of the century, peaked in the first decades of the century, and collapsed in the late 1830s. By the 1850s, most of Jamaica’s coffee plantations had been abandoned or transformed into some other spatial entity (Higman, 1988). The intensity and brevity of the Jamaica coffee boom produced an interesting, tightly datable data set. By examining the documentary and archaeological records of Yallahs region coffee plantations, it is possible to analyze how specific new spatial forms were designed and implemented on the physical landscape and how these forms were used to construct and reinforce new social relations of production. In this chapter I consider how these sociospatial phenomena resulted in the production of the spatial entity known as the coffee plantation in the Yallahs region, and how the social spaces of those plantations shaped the lives of those who lived them.
KeywordsCoffee Plantation Pulp Mill Coffee Production Material Space Domestic Space
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