Under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Kelly, Diane Wallman will collect and analyze data for her doctoral dissertation. Her project integrates archaeologically recovered faunal remains and historical data from 18th and 19th century slave and post-emancipation Afro-Caribbean households on the plantation site of Habitation Crève Coeur to examine how the enslaved laborers, and later free Afro-Caribbeans, negotiated the social and physical constraints of the plantation and island landscape through daily subsistence strategies. Many societies exhibit social stratification of which slavery is the most extreme form. Through archaeological examination of such cases it is possible to gain insight into how, over the long term, different social classes interact and how power relationships are negotiated among them.

Crève Coeur is situated in the commune of St. Anne on the French island of Martinique in the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean Sea. The plantation relied on the labor of enslaved African and African-descended peoples and operated from the mid 18th through the late 19th century, primarily for the production of sugar and its byproducts for export to the métropole and French colonies. The objective of ongoing archaeological investigations at the site is to reconstruct the lifeways of the enslaved laborers at the plantation.

Ms. Wallman's analysis relies on zooarchaeology combined with historical data. Zooarchaeologists identify, analyze and quantify animal remains recovered from archaeological contexts to investigate the system of food procurement, processing/preparation, distribution, preservation, consumption, and discard. Through revealing the daily practices of slave laborers, Ms. Wallman's research explores historical processes and social change, situated in a context of severe assymetrical power relations. Her project contributes to anthropological discussions of colonialism and comparative slavery, as it begins to deconstruct individual and community negotiations of the oppressive power structure of plantation slavery. The examination of slave subsistence strategies supports anthropological inquiry emphasizing that everyday practices are the processes of history that produce change, providing material evidence of the local consequences of and responses to the structures of power and domination constructed with the rise and spread of European Colonialism.

Through the continuing collaboration with local heritage and cultural agencies in Martinique, this research will engage community interest in Martinique with regard to local history and culture. Collaboration will continue with the completion of this project, as the local community has taken interest in the ongoing archaeological investigations (http://pagesperso-orange.fr/mac2/patrimoine3.html), through the organization of multiple public talks and open tours of the site (Portes Ouvertes). These meetings provide a platform for the local descendant communities on the island to discuss their concerns and interest in the research of their largely undocumented history and past. Crève Coeur represents a locus of growing local awareness of the contribution archaeology can provide to the history of slavery and Afro-Caribbean identity. The project will provide Ms. Wallman with further training in the methods of analysis noted above, and foster internationally cooperative research.

Project Report

Under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Kelly, Diane Wallman collected and analyzed data for her doctoral dissertation. Her project integrates archaeologically recovered faunal remains and historical data from 18th and 19th century slave and post-emancipation Afro-Caribbean households on the plantation site of Habitation Crève Coeur in Martinique (Figure 1) to examine how the enslaved laborers, and later free Afro-Caribbeans, negotiated the social and physical constraints of the plantation and island landscape through daily subsistence practices. Many societies exhibit social stratification of which slavery is the most extreme form. Through archaeological examination of such cases it is possible to gain insight into how, over the long term, different social classes interact and how power relationships are negotiated among them. Due to the paucity of narratives and accounts directly from slaves, material culture provides some of the only direct access to slave lifeways. The analysis of faunal remains from plantation contexts examines the struggles, responses, and adjustments of slave communities within novel social and natural environment, specifically investigating the material traces of the creative dietary practices formulated by the enslaved laborers that developed into regional cuisines present today in the French West Indies. Through the continuing collaboration with local heritage and cultural agencies in Martinique, this research engages community interest in local history and culture. The local community has taken interest in the archaeological investigations through the organization of multiple public talks and tours of the site. Crève Cœur represents a locus of growing local awareness of the contribution archaeology and science can provide to the history of slavery and Afro-Caribbean identity. For this project, Ms. Wallman spent 5 months at Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) in Paris, France to complete intensive zooarchaeological training and analysis of the faunal remains recovered from slave village occupations at Crève Cœur (Figure 2). She then travelled to Martinique to complete archival and zooarchaeological data collection. Zooarchaeologists identify, analyze and quantify animal remains recovered from archaeological contexts to investigate the system of food procurement, processing/preparation, distribution, preservation, consumption, and discard. Through revealing the daily practices of slave laborers, this research explores historical processes and social change, situated in a context of severe assymetrical power relations. Results of analyses completed at the MNHN identified over 10,000 faunal remains recovered from Crève Cœur, and indicate a highly varied diet (Figure 3). Domestic mammals were important in slave community subsistence, including cattle, pig, sheep, goat and chicken. The enslaved laborers at Crève Cœur also procured a diverse array of resources available on the landscape within and surrounding the plantation, including the trapping of small mammals, such as opossum, agouti and mongoose. Additionally, the slave and later free community harvested 29 different fish families, sea turtle, land crab, sea urchin and numerous marine and mangrove shellfish. Common shellfish identified within the deposits include the West-Indian topshell (Cittarium pica), chitons (Acanthopleura granulata and Chiton marmoratus), and mangrove oysters (Crassostrea rhizophorae). Common fish species recovered at Crève Cœur include many species still prepared in modern day Martinique. Specifically, the slave community consumed snapper (Family Lutjanidae), grouper (Family Serranidae), balao (Family Hemiramphidae), barracuda (Family Sphyraenidae), and grunts (Family Haemulidae), which all remain a part of modern creole cuisine in the French West Indies. The fish species identified inhabit reef, inshore and mangrove swamp environments, with very few pelagic, or deep water, species identified, suggesting that they were procured along the coast. These results reveal that the slave community at Crève Cœur focused extensively on the exploitation of nearby inshore, mangrove swamp and reef habitats, located only 1.5 km from the plantation (Figure 4). In particular, the relatively small sizes of the fish and the particular species identified within the assemblage suggest that the enslaved laborers used nets at inshore locations to obtain fish. The recovery of lead fishing weights throughout the site further corroborate that inshore net fishing or seining, a practice that continues today, was the preferred method for procuring fish. The faunal remains indicate that the slaves at Crève Cœur were somewhat reliant on community self-provisioning, allowing for physical, economic and social interactions beyond the boundaries of the plantation. The data collected and interpretations derived from this project contributie to the broader social and ecological history of the Caribbean and the greater Atlantic World. These preliminary results clearly indicate that the slave community at Crève Cœur created a system of foodways that involved self-sufficiency, creativity, and careful strategizing within a constrained social and ecological setting. Through these practices, slave communities were able to create a cuisine of their own, thus forming a solid foundation for the formation of Afro-Caribbean cultures. The investigation of foodways has a clear connection to these discussions, as it aims to illuminate the active role of African and Afro-Caribbean peoples in the past in the production of cultural traditions and history.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1117214
Program Officer
John E. Yellen
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-04-15
Budget End
2012-03-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$18,500
Indirect Cost
Name
University South Carolina Research Foundation
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Columbia
State
SC
Country
United States
Zip Code
29208