Cultivating a Home: British Living Memories of Jamaican Sugar Landscapes

Margaux Le Quellec

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Abstract

This dissertation reviews the imperial association between Britain and the West Indies, specifically the island of Jamaica, and revisits the effects of the development of the sugar industry in the 18th and 19th century on that landscape and on its representation. In particular, it seeks to show how the sugar industry transformed not only the physicality of Jamaica’s landscape but also the phenomenological characterizations of it. Most interestingly, this inquiry strives to dissect the understandings and readings of the Jamaican sugar landscape through the lens of two main participant groups of this agrarian society: the British settlers belonging to the plantocracy and the colonised slaves. The contextual and iconographical analysis of several primary narratives of the British settlers and the secondary sources of the colonised slaves informs us on both idiosyncrasies and conformities in the understandings and portrayals of the sugar plantations.
The analysis reveals three main concluding statements regarding the two interest groups. The first is the emergence of the literal understanding of the British settlers, an understanding that is completely aware of the horrors of the sugar industry, but in which cruelties are quieted and justified by the riches to made. The second revolves around the recognition of brutal actualities of the sugar landscape detailed by the slave narratives, an understanding of the landscape based
on their duties and endless labour. Lastly, addresses the transmutation and transformation of these understandings into a picturesque aesthetic sold to the wider audiences in Europe.

The findings not only offer a synthesis on how British settlers and the colonised slaves came to understand the landscape but also how these understandings and representations materialized. These specifically, emphasise the stark difference between the understanding and the representation of the Jamaican sugar landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Lima, Francisca, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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