University Press of Florida, December 2015
Cuba had the largest slave society of the Spanish colonial empire. At Santa Ana de Biajacas the plantation owner sequestered slaves behind a massive masonry wall. In the first archaeological investigation of a Cuban plantation by an English speaker, Theresa Singleton, professor of anthropology, explores how elite Cuban planters used the built environment to impose a hierarchical social order upon slave laborers.
Behind the wall, slaves reclaimed the space as their own, forming communities, building their own houses, celebrating, gambling, and even harboring slave runaways. What emerged there is not just an identity distinct from other North American and Caribbean plantations, but a unique slave culture that thrived despite a spartan lifestyle. Singleton's study provides insight into the larger historical context of the African diaspora, global patterns of enslavement, and the development of Cuba as an integral member of the larger Atlantic World.
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