Historical Archaeology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 9–21 | Cite as

An East Indian Laborers’ Household in Nineteenth-Century Jamaica: A Case for Understanding Cultural Diversity through Space, Chronology, and Material Analysis

  • Douglas Armstrong
  • Mark W. Hauser


Cultural diversity is a hallmark of the Caribbean region. This diversity is the result of many diasporas, including European, African, East Asian, and East Indian. Historical archaeology has focused on cultural permutations of the demographically dominant European and African groups. The archaeological record of other groups is present and can add to our understanding of the true depth of diversity in the emergence of social landscapes. This paper explores chronological, spatial, and material evidence related to an East Indian laborers’ household excavated in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. The ways in which space was structured and materials used were distinct from patterns observed in the households of African Jamaicans who resided in a separate locus at the same site. This data suggests potential of examining cultural identities through archaeology.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agrosah, Kofi 1994 Maroons Heritage: Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Historical Perspectives. Canoe Press, Kingston, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  2. Agrosah, Kofi 1999 Ethnoarchaeological Consideration of Social Relations and Settlement Patterning among Africans in the Caribbean Diaspora. In African Sites Archaeology in the Caribbean, Jay B. Haviser, editor, pp. 38–64. Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  3. Alter, Joseph 1999 Heaps of Health, Metaphysical Fitness: Ayurveda and the Ontology of Good Health in Medical Anthropology. Current Anthropology, 40(Supplement):S43–S66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Annanth, Shashikala 1998 The Penguin Guide to Vãstuu: The Classic Indian Science of Architecture and Design. Viking Press, London.Google Scholar
  5. Armstrong, Douglas V. 1990 The Old Village and the Great House: An Archaeological and Historical Examination of Drax Hall Plantation, Jamaica. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.Google Scholar
  6. Armstrong, Douglas V. 1998 Cultural Transformation among Caribbean Slave Communities. In Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology, James G. Cusick, editor, pp. 378–401. Southern Illinois University, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Carbondale.Google Scholar
  7. Armstrong, Douglas V., and Kenneth Kelly 2000 Settlement Patterns and the Origins of African Jamaican Society: Seville Plantation, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Ethnohistory, 47(2):369–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Atherton, John Harvey 1983 Ethnoarchaeology in Africa. African Archaeological Review, 1:75–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bafna, Sonit 2000 On the Idea of the Mandala As a Governing Device in Indian Architectural Tradition. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 59(1):20–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Black, Clinton 1972 History of Jamaica. Canoe Press, Kingston, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  11. Burke, Heather 1999 Meaning and Ideology in Historical Archaeology: Style, Social Identity, and Capitalism in an Australian Town. Plenum Press, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burton, Richard 1997 Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition, and Play in the Caribbean. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  13. Conkey, Meg 1990 Experimenting with Style in Archaeology. In The Uses of Style in Archaeology, M. Conkey and C. Hastorf, editors, pp. 5–17. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  14. Darling, Charles H. 1845 Report of the AGI, 28 October, pp. 84–87. Manuscript, Jamaica National Archives, Spanish Town, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  15. Darling, Charles 1846 Letter to Lt. Governor Berkeley, 16 December. Votes of the Honourable House of Assembly of Jamaica St Jago de la Vega, pp. 97–98. Jamaica National Archives, Spanish Town, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  16. DeCorse, Christopher R. 1989 Material Aspects of the Limba, Yalunka, and Kuranko Ethnicity: Archaeological Research in Northeastern Sierra Leone. In Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity, S. Shennan, editor, pp. 125–40. Unwin Hyman, London.Google Scholar
  17. DeCorse, Christopher R. 1999 Oceans Apart: Africanists Perspectives on Diaspora Archaeology. In “I, Too, Am America”: Archaeological Studies of African American Life, Theresa A. Singleton, editor, pp. 132–158. University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville.Google Scholar
  18. Delle, James A. 1998 The Archaeology of Social Space: Analyzing Coffee Plantations in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. Plenum Press, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ebanks, Roderick, 1984 Ma Lou, An Afro Jamaican Pottery Tradition. Jamaica Journal, 17(3):31–37.Google Scholar
  20. Green, William A. 1976 British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment 1830–1865. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  21. Hauser, Mark W. 2001 Peddling Pots: Determining the Extent of Market Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica through the Analysis of Local Coarse Earthenware. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Syracuse University, NY.Google Scholar
  22. Helms, Mary 1986 Of Kings and Contexts: Ethnohistorical Interpretations of Miskito Political Structure and Function. American Ethnologist, 13:506–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Higman, Barry W. 1998 Montpelier, Jamaica: A Plantation Community in Slavery and Freedom 1739–1912. University of the West Indies Press, Kingston, Jamaica.Google Scholar
  24. Jamaica Almanac 1915 The Jamaica Almanac for 1915. Office of the Royal Gazette and Jamaica Times, Kingston.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, Siân 1997 The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Constructing Identities in the Past and Present. Routledge, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones, Siân 1999 The Praxis of Archaeology. In Historical Archaeology, Back from the Edge, P. Funari, M. Hall, and S. Jones, editors, pp. 219–232. One World Archaeology Series. Routledge Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Kelly, Kenneth 1989 Slaves No More: An Archaeological Comparison of Two Post-Emancipation House Sites on Drax Hall and Seville Estate, St. Ann’s Jamaica. Master’s thesis, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA.Google Scholar
  28. Kelly, Kenneth, and Douglas Armstrong 1991 Archaeological Investigations of a Nineteenth-Century Free Laborer House, Seville Estate, St. Ann’s, Jamaica. In Proceedings of the 13th International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology. Reports of the Archaeological-Anthropological Institute of the Netherlands Antilles, 9:429–435.Google Scholar
  29. Knibb Sibley, Inez 1978 Dictionary of Place Names in Jamaica. Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.Google Scholar
  30. Moore, Melinda 1983 Taravad: House, Land, and Relationship in a Matrilineal Hindu Society. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. UMI, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  31. National Library of Jamaica 1847 Plan of Priory, Parish of Saint Ann, Jamaica. Map for the Reverend J. Smith, Intended for the Purposes of Conveyance for Various Individuals, May, 1842. Maps, Saint Ann 349, National Library of Jamaica, Kingston.Google Scholar
  32. Orser, Charles, editor 2001 Race and the Archaeology of Identity. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.Google Scholar
  33. Parboosingh, Ivan 1984 An Indo-Jamaican Beginning. Jamaica Journal, 17(3): 2–9.Google Scholar
  34. Provok, Carolyn V., and Mohammed Hemmasi 1993 East Indian Muslims and Their Mosques in Trinidad: A Geography of Religious Structures and the Politics of Ethnic Identity. Caribbean Geography, 4:28–48.Google Scholar
  35. Roberts, George 1957 The Population of Jamaica. Kraus Reprint Co., Millwood, NY.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sackett, James 1990 Style and Ethnicity in Archaeology: A Case for Isochrestism. In The Uses of Style in Archaeology, C. Hastorf and M. Conkey, editors, pp. 32–43. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  37. Shepherd, Verene 1988 Indians and Blacks in Jamaica in the Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries: A Micro-Study of the Foundation of Race Antagonism. In After the Crossing: Immigrants and Minorities in Caribbean Creole Society, Howard Johnson, editor, pp. 95–112. Frank Cass and Company, London.Google Scholar
  38. South, Stanley 1977 Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Stark, Miriam 1998 The Archaeology of Social Boundaries. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  40. Thomas, Mary 1974 Jamaica and Voluntary Laborers from Africa: 1840–1865. Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.Google Scholar
  41. Trigger, Bruce 1995 Romanticism, Nationalism and Archaeology. In Nationalism, Politics, and the Practice of Archaeology, P. Kohl and C. Fawcett, editors, pp. 263–279. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  42. Wadley, Susan 2000 From Sacred Cow Dung to Cow “Shit”: Globalization and Local Religious Practices in Rural North India. Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies, 12:1–28.Google Scholar
  43. Wiessner, Polly 1990 Is There a Unity to Style. In The Uses of Style in Archaeology, C. Hastorf and M. Conkey, editors, pp. 105–112. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  44. Williams, Brackette 1991 Stain on My Name, War in My Veins: Guyana and the Politics of Cultural Struggle. Duke University Press, Durham, SC.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wujastyk, Dominik 1998 The Roots of Ayurveda: Selections from Sanskrit Medical Writings. Penguin Press, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Armstrong
    • 1
  • Mark W. Hauser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations