Fellow's Talk

“Vast Forests of Clove”: Spice Production in French Guiana, 1790-1848

View of the fort and watchtower or lookout at Cayenne, Guiana. Includes fortifications, ships, boats, dwellings, and barracks.

This week, our speaker is Elizabeth Clay, a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is preparing to defend her dissertation “Slavery and Freedom on the Fringes of France: Historical Archaeological Analysis of Habitation La Caroline, French Guiana.”

Chroniclers characterize plantation slavery in Guiana as consistently lacking in funds and labor. The production of clove, however, was one celebrated area of commerce. As an unusual circum-Caribbean commodity, how did clove production shape nineteenth century landscapes, economies, and communities? This talk considers clove production within the broader realities and imaginings of plantation slavery in this colony, using sources explored at the JCB in conversation with the broader dissertation project.