Plantation Soilscapes

Initial and Cumulative Impacts of Colonial Agriculture in Antigua, West Indies

E. Christian Wells, Suzanna M. Pratt, Georgia L. Fox, Peter Siegel, Nicholas P. Dunning, A. Reginald Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper examines physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and sediments from landforms in eastern Antigua, West Indies, to better understand the long-term consequences of colonial plantation agriculture for soil health. Plantation farming played a central role in the history of Caribbean societies, economies, and environments since the seventeenth century. In Antigua, the entire island was variably dedicated to agricultural pursuits (mostly sugarcane monoculture) from the mid-1600s until independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, when most commercial cultivation ceased. Today’s soilscapes are highly degraded, although it is unknown what the role of the island’s plantation legacy has played in this process. Our research combines geoarchaeological survey and sampling, sediment core analysis, and historical archival research to model the initial and cumulative impacts of the plantation industry on the island. We focus on the region surrounding Betty’s Hope, the island’s first large-scale sugarcane plantation in operation from 1674 to 1944. We find that current erosion and degradation issues experienced by today’s farmers are not attributable to intensive plantation farming alone, but rather are part of a complex mosaic of human-environmental interactions that include abandonment of engineered landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Archaeology
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018

Fingerprint

Caribbean Region
plantation
agriculture
seventeenth century
erosion
farmer
economy
industry
history
interaction
health
society
core analysis
monoculture
landform
Plantation
West Indies
Colonies
Agriculture
soil

Keywords

  • Caribbean
  • environmental impacts
  • historical archaeology
  • Landscape change
  • soil analysis
  • sugar plantations

Cite this

Wells, E. Christian ; Pratt, Suzanna M. ; Fox, Georgia L. ; Siegel, Peter ; Dunning, Nicholas P. ; Murphy, A. Reginald. / Plantation Soilscapes : Initial and Cumulative Impacts of Colonial Agriculture in Antigua, West Indies. In: Environmental Archaeology. 2018 ; Vol. 23, No. 1. pp. 23-35.
@article{3d17448a3c6743d0a2a67fb6b1dda38e,
title = "Plantation Soilscapes: Initial and Cumulative Impacts of Colonial Agriculture in Antigua, West Indies",
abstract = "This paper examines physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and sediments from landforms in eastern Antigua, West Indies, to better understand the long-term consequences of colonial plantation agriculture for soil health. Plantation farming played a central role in the history of Caribbean societies, economies, and environments since the seventeenth century. In Antigua, the entire island was variably dedicated to agricultural pursuits (mostly sugarcane monoculture) from the mid-1600s until independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, when most commercial cultivation ceased. Today’s soilscapes are highly degraded, although it is unknown what the role of the island’s plantation legacy has played in this process. Our research combines geoarchaeological survey and sampling, sediment core analysis, and historical archival research to model the initial and cumulative impacts of the plantation industry on the island. We focus on the region surrounding Betty’s Hope, the island’s first large-scale sugarcane plantation in operation from 1674 to 1944. We find that current erosion and degradation issues experienced by today’s farmers are not attributable to intensive plantation farming alone, but rather are part of a complex mosaic of human-environmental interactions that include abandonment of engineered landscapes.",
keywords = "Caribbean, environmental impacts, historical archaeology, Landscape change, soil analysis, sugar plantations",
author = "Wells, {E. Christian} and Pratt, {Suzanna M.} and Fox, {Georgia L.} and Peter Siegel and Dunning, {Nicholas P.} and Murphy, {A. Reginald}",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "2",
doi = "10.1080/14614103.2017.1309806",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "23--35",
journal = "Environmental Archaeology",
issn = "1461-4103",
publisher = "Maney Publishing",
number = "1",

}

Plantation Soilscapes : Initial and Cumulative Impacts of Colonial Agriculture in Antigua, West Indies. / Wells, E. Christian; Pratt, Suzanna M.; Fox, Georgia L.; Siegel, Peter; Dunning, Nicholas P.; Murphy, A. Reginald.

In: Environmental Archaeology, Vol. 23, No. 1, 02.01.2018, p. 23-35.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Plantation Soilscapes

T2 - Initial and Cumulative Impacts of Colonial Agriculture in Antigua, West Indies

AU - Wells, E. Christian

AU - Pratt, Suzanna M.

AU - Fox, Georgia L.

AU - Siegel, Peter

AU - Dunning, Nicholas P.

AU - Murphy, A. Reginald

PY - 2018/1/2

Y1 - 2018/1/2

N2 - This paper examines physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and sediments from landforms in eastern Antigua, West Indies, to better understand the long-term consequences of colonial plantation agriculture for soil health. Plantation farming played a central role in the history of Caribbean societies, economies, and environments since the seventeenth century. In Antigua, the entire island was variably dedicated to agricultural pursuits (mostly sugarcane monoculture) from the mid-1600s until independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, when most commercial cultivation ceased. Today’s soilscapes are highly degraded, although it is unknown what the role of the island’s plantation legacy has played in this process. Our research combines geoarchaeological survey and sampling, sediment core analysis, and historical archival research to model the initial and cumulative impacts of the plantation industry on the island. We focus on the region surrounding Betty’s Hope, the island’s first large-scale sugarcane plantation in operation from 1674 to 1944. We find that current erosion and degradation issues experienced by today’s farmers are not attributable to intensive plantation farming alone, but rather are part of a complex mosaic of human-environmental interactions that include abandonment of engineered landscapes.

AB - This paper examines physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and sediments from landforms in eastern Antigua, West Indies, to better understand the long-term consequences of colonial plantation agriculture for soil health. Plantation farming played a central role in the history of Caribbean societies, economies, and environments since the seventeenth century. In Antigua, the entire island was variably dedicated to agricultural pursuits (mostly sugarcane monoculture) from the mid-1600s until independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, when most commercial cultivation ceased. Today’s soilscapes are highly degraded, although it is unknown what the role of the island’s plantation legacy has played in this process. Our research combines geoarchaeological survey and sampling, sediment core analysis, and historical archival research to model the initial and cumulative impacts of the plantation industry on the island. We focus on the region surrounding Betty’s Hope, the island’s first large-scale sugarcane plantation in operation from 1674 to 1944. We find that current erosion and degradation issues experienced by today’s farmers are not attributable to intensive plantation farming alone, but rather are part of a complex mosaic of human-environmental interactions that include abandonment of engineered landscapes.

KW - Caribbean

KW - environmental impacts

KW - historical archaeology

KW - Landscape change

KW - soil analysis

KW - sugar plantations

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85017282260&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/14614103.2017.1309806

DO - 10.1080/14614103.2017.1309806

M3 - Article

VL - 23

SP - 23

EP - 35

JO - Environmental Archaeology

JF - Environmental Archaeology

SN - 1461-4103

IS - 1

ER -