Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Grey Gundaker

Committee Member

Neil L Norman

Committee Member

Audrey Horning

Committee Member

Whitney Battle-Baptiste


My dissertation research at St. Nicholas Abbey sugar plantation places landscape at the forefront of analysis in order to tell a story of power and conflict over rights and claims to belonging in one of the most profitable British colonies during the era of emancipation. I spent years completing archaeological and ethnohistorical research at this popular national heritage site to learn how the transition from slavery to emancipation occurred on the ground, and to provide a comparative analysis of the tenantry system as it developed locally in the Caribbean region. I conceived the concept of a landscape of racialized ownership to stress the interconnected processes of dispossession and racialization attempted through the enclosure movement, which led to the formation of a landless working class on both sides of the Atlantic. By excavating processes of dispossession and local responses to it through the lens of anthropological archaeology, I make explicit complex relationships among boundaries, belonging, law, and private property in land. In doing so, I investigate connections between peoples who are differently marked by global forces—including slavery, abolition, industrialization, and capitalism. Specifically, my analysis of the tenantry system and enduring chattel house shows how the cultural terms of belonging are historically interwoven with property relations. Property, and how it is culturally constructed, is almost entirely absent in scholarly studies of people that were at best considered victims in colonial property regimes. I argue that archaeologists can, and indeed should, analyze property ownership by African Diasporans with anthropological and Africanist centered approaches to expose how racial identities and property rights continue to operate in the present-day.




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