Date Thesis Awarded

4-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Frederick Smith

Committee Member

Neil Norman

Committee Member

Gerard Chouin

Abstract

Between the seventeenth and nineteenth century, the transatlantic slave trade brought approximately twelve million Africans to the New World, where many labored on plantations in colonial societies including Barbados, a Caribbean island colonized by the British. Despite the traumatic horrors of the Middle Passage, West-African materials and ideas survived and were transformed during this massive diaspora into new cultural contexts. West African-based spiritual beliefs and practices have been recorded in the Caribbean under various names like Obeah and Vodou, but these traditions were documented by colonial whites who often misinterpreted the practices they encountered. My honors project takes an alternative perspective on the history of enslaved Barbadians’ spiritual world, rooted in material culture and surviving physical landscapes, rather then solely on documentary records. It combines archaeological materials and oral traditions that reveal previous and ongoing practices of commemoration and spirituality in areas surrounding a former slave village site on a sugar plantation on Barbados. I argue that these spaces and practices were crucial in the development of Barbadians' identity and ongoing heritage.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.