Daily practice and domestic economies in Guadeloupe: An archaeological and historical study

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Historical archaeology, Household economies, Market culture, Slavery, French Caribbean

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Scholars of Caribbean slavery have long been interested in the informal economic activity in which the enslaved engaged, localized in provision grounds, housegardens, and Sunday markets. These pursuits, independent from plantation-based monocrop agriculture, provided for the subsistence needs of the enslaved and compensated for a lack of provisioning by planters. Such economic activity by the enslaved is commonly linked to the development of strong social and economic networks which facilitated post-emancipation transitions to subsistence agriculture or a peasant economy. Much of the research on these topics, however, has been focused on the former British colonies. This dissertation examines the social and economic lives of laborers on a French Caribbean plantation, Habitation La Mahaudière, in the northern Grande-Terre commune of Anse-Bertrand in Guadeloupe. Using archival and archaeological evidence, I examine the long-term history of the laborer's village, spanning the mid-eighteenth through the early-twentieth centuries. I use information collected through excavations of five household structures to establish diachronic comparisons of the domestic economies of village inhabitants. I analyze the negotiation of social relations of power in everyday practice through a close consideration of architectural remains, artifact assemblages, and the documentary evidence from an 1840s court case against estate owner, Jean-Baptiste Douillard-Mahaudière. This evidence suggests the importance of the local context and the particularities of the French colonial setting to an understanding of the practice of slavery in the colonies. I demonstrate the impact of turbulent historical circumstances on the day-to-day lives of laborers, and examine the entanglement of material culture in these processes.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.