Labour Relations and Landscape: Slave Built Agricultural Retaining Walls on the Quill, St. Eustatius

23rd November 2014

Tutchener, DavidIn 1732, at the height of the slave trade on St. Eustatius in the Caribbean, the Dutch shipped more than 2700 people from Africa, making the island integral to the Second West India Trading Company’s influence in the Caribbean. This site consists of a series of 10 dry built stonewalls that run down a large valley on the side of the Quill (602m in height), which is a dormant volcano located within a National Park of the same name. The walls were built either to assist in the minimisation of erosion or flood damage to plantations below. There are a number of these walls scattered over the Quill, all in various states of decay. This site is significant within an island-wide landscape context in that it demonstrates the interaction of plantation culture and labour relations with the environment and the deep impact that slavery had on the small island of St. Eustatius. Within the context of slavery, these retaining walls demonstrate a political purpose, as they are clear extensions of colonial power. This site was selected due to its unique location on a very steep volcanic hillside, its aesthetic appeal, and its structural integrity. Many if not most of the stonewalls that exist on the island of St. Eustatius were constructed during the plantation era utilising slave labour. At the time of this publication very few of these walls have been systematically surveyed and recorded. Much of the previous work on slave built heritage on St. Eustatius has focused on the main living areas of plantations and in particular slave houses within this environment.

Citation for this poster:

Tutchener, D. 2014 Labour Relations and Landscape: Slave Built Agricultural Retaining Walls on the Quill, St. Eustatius. Poster Presented at the AAA/ASHA Annual Conference, 1-3 December, Cairns.

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