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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anderson, J. (1975). Night of the Silent Drums. Scribner, New York.
Armstrong, D. V. (2003) Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom: Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
Armstrong, D.V. (2008) Maps, Matricals, and Material Remains: An Archaeological GIS of Late-Eighteenth Century Historic Sites on St. John, Danish West Indies. In Reid, Basil (ed) Archaeology and Geoinformatics: Case Studies from the Caribbean, Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press, pp 99–126.
Beck, Jr., R. A., Bolender, D. J., Brown, J. A., and Earle, T. K. (2007). Eventful archaeology: the place of space in structural transformation. Current Anthropology 48(6): 833–860.
Bolender, D. J. (2010). Introduction: toward an Eventful Archaeology. In Bolender, D. J. (ed.), Eventful Archaeologies: New Approaches to Social Transformation in the Archaeological Record. State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 3–16.
Bollwerk, E. (2015). From cultural complexes to complex social topography: A history of spatial approaches to native cultural landscapes in the middle Atlantic. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 25(2): 1–14.
Brown, V. (2015). Mapping a slave revolt: visualizing spatial history through the archives of slavery. Social Text 33(4): 134–141.
Caron, A. and Highfield, A. (1981) The French Intervention in the St. John Slave Revolt of 1733-34. Bureau of Libraries, Museums and Archaeological Services, Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs, St. John, VI.
Casella, E. C. (2010). Landscapes of punishment and resistance: a female convict settlement in Tasmania, Australia. In Mrozowski, S. and Preucel, R. (eds.), The New Pragmatism, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 93–103.
Delle, J. (1998). An Archaeology of Social Space: Analyzing Coffee Plantations in Jamaica's Blue Mountains. Plenum Press, New York.
Dempsey, C. (2012) Maps as art. GIS Lounge. www.gislounge.com/map-as-asrt/ Accessed September 2018.
Evans, T. and Daly, P. (eds.) (2006). Digital Archaeology: Bridging Method and Theory. Routledge, London.
Fitts, R. (1996). Landscapes of northern bondage. Historical Archaeology 30(2): 54–73.
Fog Olwig, K. (1985) Cultural Adaptation and Resistance on St. John: Three Centuries of Afro-Caribbean Life. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
Governors Order Book, Amalie, C., and Thomas, S. (1733). Anderson, Stevens, and Pishko, Private Collection, St. John, United States Virgin Islands.
Gregory, I. (2003). A Place in History: A Guide to Using GIS in Historical Research. Oxbow Books, Oxford.
Hicks, D. (2007) "The Garden of the World": An Historical Archaeology of Sugar Landscapes in the Eastern Caribean. ArcheoPress, Oxford.
Horvath, E. (1991) Archaeological Investigations Conducted at Lind Point, Mary Point, Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park. National Park Service, Washington, DC.
Ingold, T. (1993). The temporality of landscape. World Archaeology 25(2): 152–174.
Ingold, T. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Taylor and Francis, London.
Kellar, E. (2004) The Construction and Expression of Identity: An Archaeological Investigation of the Laborer Villages at Adrian Estate, St. John, USVI, Doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.
Knight, D. (2010). A timeline of the establishment of the town of Cruz Bay. St. John. St. John Historical Society 9(2).
Knowles, A. K., Westerveld, L., and Strom, L. (2015). Inductive visualization: a humanistic alternative to GIS. GeoHumanities 1(2): 233–265.
Landlisters, St. Jan (1728) Rigsarkivet, det Vestindisk-Guineiske Kompagni. Box Number 44. National Archives, Copenhagen, DK.
Landlisters, St. Jan (1730-1733) Anderson, Stevens, and Pishko: Private Collection. Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI.
Lenik, S. (2011). Mission plantations, space, and social control: Jesuits as planters in French Caribbean colonies and frontires. Journal of Social Archaeology 12(1): 51–71.
Llobera, M. (2006). What you see is what you get?: visualscapes, visual genesis and hierarchy. In Evans, T. and Daly, P. (eds.), Digital Archaeology: Bridging Method and Theory. Routledge, London, pp. 148–167.
Lock, G. and Pouncett, J. (2017). Spatial thinking in archaeology: is GIS the answer? Journal of Archaeological Science 84: 129–135.
Longueville, C.D. (1734) Letter on the St. John Slave Rebellion. In Tyson, G. and Highfield, A (eds.) The Kamina Folk: Slavery and Slave Life in the Danish West Indies, Virgin Islands Humanity Council, Charlotte Amalie, pp. 25–28.
Mikecz, J. (2017). Peering beyond the Imperial gaze: using digital tools to construct a spatial history of conquest. International Journal of Humanities and Computing 11(1): 39–54.
Murrieta-Flores, P. and Gregory, I. (2015). Further Frontiers in GIS: extending spatial analysis to textual sources in archaeology. Open Archaeology 1: 166–175.
Norton, H. K. (2013) Estate by Estate: The Landscape of the 1733 St. Jan Slave Rebellion. Doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.
Norton, H. K. (2015). The 1733 St. Jan Rebellion and the establishment of a Danish St. Croix. In Delle, J. (ed.), The Limits of Tyranny: Archaeological Perspectives on the Struggle against New World Slavery. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, pp. 35–65.
Norton, H. K. and Espenshade, C. (2007). The challenge of locating maroon refuge sites at maroon ridge. St. Croix. Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 7: 1–17.
Norton, H. K., Espenshade, C., Catts, W., and Pishko, C. (2011) Phase II Archaeological Research, Planned Improvements to the Manager's Villa, Caneel Bay Resort, St. John, US Virgin Islands. On File with the USVI State Historic Preservation Office, St. John.
Roberts, L. (2016). Deep mapping and spatial anthropology. Humanities 5(5): 1–7.
Scott, J. C. (1990). Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Trascripts. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Secret Privy Council (1733–34). Secret Privy Council Correspondence, St. Jan. Anderson, Stevens and Pishko: Private Collection. Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI.
Shafie, T., Schoch, D., Mans, J., Hofman, C., and Brandes, U. (2017). Hypergraph reprsentations: a study of Carib attacks on colonial forces (1509-1700). Journal of Historical Network Research 1: 52–70.
Singleton, T. (2001). Slavery and spatial dialectics on Cuban coffee plantations. World Archaeology 33(1): 98–114.
Solis, C. (2004) Phase II Testing and Evaluation, Bellevue Archaeological Site, Estate Bellevue, St. John, US Virgin Islands. On file with USVI State Historic Preservation Office, St. John.
Taylor, J., Donaldson, C., Gregory, I., and Butler, J. (eds.) (2018). Mapping digitally, mapping deep: exploring digital literary geographies. Literary Geographies 4(1): 1–136.
Wheaton, T. (2000) A Phase I Archaeological Survey of Parcels No. 488D, 488E, and 488F, Chocolate Hole, St. John, USVI. On file with the USVI State Hisoric Preservation Office, St. John.
Wild, K. and Reaves, R. (1986) Archaeological Investigations Conducted Along the North Shore Road, St. John, US Virgin Islands. National Park Service, Washington, DC.
Wild, K., Horvath, E., Potter, D., and Repp, A. (1991) 1987-89 Archaeological Investigations Conducted along the North Shore Road, St. John, US Virgin Islands. National Park Service, Washington, DC.
Yentsch, A. (1996) Introduction: close attention to place–landscape studies by historical archaeologists. In Yamin, R. and Metheny K. (eds.) Landscape Archaeology, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, pp xxiii-xlii.
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.
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.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-019-00526-7
- Spatial history
- Digital humanities
- Slave rebellion
- St. Jan