Analyzing Cognitive Space

The Imagined Spaces of the Plantation Theorists
  • James A. Delle
Part of the Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


This chapter continues my exploration of the spatial dynamics of the transition from mercantile to competitive capitalist modes of production in the early nineteenth century by exploring how a new sociospatial order was cognitively conceived by various plantation theorists in response to the crisis of the early nineteenth century. Prior to emancipation, such schemes sought to re-create a social order in which the planter class maintained exclusive control of productive space; following emancipation, the schemes attempted to materially create and legitimate a new set of social relations of production based on wage labor. In Jamaica, this spatial reorganization included the development of new patterns of landownership as the emancipated slave labor force transformed into an agrarian peasantry, the creation of new town and village forms inhabited by the peasantry, and the abandonment of large areas of land formally cultivated in sugar. Significantly, in the years leading up to emancipation, these processes also included the introduction of new crops — most notably coffee — and the spaces needed to create commodities from these plants. To understand how plantations were designed and imagined, that is, how some elements of cognitive space were negotiated, this chapter will analyze how contemporary plantation theorists recognized plantation spaces during the period of crisis I outlined in earlier chapters.


Coffee Plantation Wage Labor Early Nineteenth Century Coffee Production Commodity Production 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Delle
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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