Finding the Spaces Betwixt and Between: GIS of the 1733 St. Jan Slave Rebellion


The 1733 St. Jan Slave Rebellion in the Danish West Indies was an ephemeral event, from an archaeological perspective. Lasting only eight months and diffused across the 52-km2 island, the rebellion lacks a traditional archaeological signature even from battlefield methodologies. However, it is useful to apply archaeological questions to topics that are difficult to approach through dirt and shovel. This paper will discuss the application of spatial history/digital humanities methods to analyze the slave rebellion from multiple temporal vantage points, including social conditions leading up to the rebellion, and how creative uses of spatializing textual data may allow researchers to gain new insights into difficult-to-see past people such as enslaved freedom fighters.

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Thanks first and foremost to Alanna Warner and Sarah Platt for organizing the 2017 SHA session Beyond (between, within, through) the Grid: The Contours of Mapping and GIS in Archaeology, and then their subsequent labors on this edited volume. All of the GIS data refresh for this article was accomplished with the tremendous assistance of Holly McKee-Huth, Geographic Information Systems expert at History Colorado. Her knowledge of the theory and architecture behind ArcMAP was invaluable, as were her ideas and insights into GIS applications. I am also indebted to Lindsay Johansson and the reviewers for their comments and suggestions. I especially want to thank Siobhan Hart for suggesting the title of this article. I sincerely hope I have done all the comments justice. All errors, omissions, and erroneous hypotheses are my own.

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Correspondence to Holly Kathryn Norton.

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A note on the maps: the 1800 Oxholm map of St. Jan was used as the background map for the print version of this article due to the fact that it was sketched in black and white. The preferred map for this analysis is the 1780 Oxholm map which was in full color, and used in the on-line version of this article. The two maps are at the same scale and have only minor differences.

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Norton, H.K. Finding the Spaces Betwixt and Between: GIS of the 1733 St. Jan Slave Rebellion. Int J Histor Archaeol 24, 803–822 (2020).

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  • Spatial history
  • Digital humanities
  • GIS
  • Slave rebellion
  • Caribbean
  • St. Jan