EUROTAST Fellow Ryan Espersen is presenting a paper at the upcoming EAA-SAA Joint Meeting Archaeological Perspectives on Slavery, Trade, and Colonialism in Curaçao, 5-7 November, 2015.
Title: Manifestations of Race, Class, and Gender in Pre-Emancipation Colonial
Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Abstract: Saba is a small and steep island in the Dutch Caribbean, just 13 square kilometers in area and 890 meters in elevation, with very little immigration among a population that never exceeded 1,900 prior to emancipation in 1863. The island never developed into a full-fledged plantation economy, which resulted in a population somewhat evenly split between wholly European descent residents and those of African descent, whether enslaved or free. These demographic conditions are conducive towards a feasible diachronic, dialectical study concerning how ideologies of race, class, and gender manifested in the material and social environment of preemancipation colonial Saba. This research combines extensive archival research together with archaeological excavations of key social contexts relative to the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.
While this study identified particular material and social characteristics
that are representative of the enslaved, free Sabans of African descent, “poor white” Sabans and those among the upper class, it also highlights the dangers inherent in interpreting archaeological assemblages in isolation from those representative of other relevant, contemporaneous groups within the spectrum of a given region or culture’s social organization.