Professor Justin Dunnavant and his team have put extensive effort into exploring the history and effects of slavery on the island of St Croix. Through the in-field tour on heritage sites with archaeological works, the Salve Wrecks Project, in short of SWP, has assisted the public effectively in comprehending how slavery and plantation agriculture has shaped people’s lives, landscape, and ecology during the enslavement period. The history of St. Croix and the impact of sugar plantations on the development of the island provides implications for understanding contemporary environmental problems.
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Slavery and plantation agriculture shaped the people, landscape, and ecology of the island and surrounding sea by adjusting the area to the needs of colonizers and considering the natural disasters that occurred in the region. Dunnavant (2019, 163) cites an example of the Estate Little Princess, which was a sugar plantation. In 1772 over one hundred enslaved laborers were registered at this site, while in the nineteenth century their number decreased by half. The structures and buildings that were uncovered by the author provide an understanding of the daily lives of people on the island because he states that a slave village was part of the estate. Bedrock modifications suggest that specific changes were made to the landscape for ensuring adequate support of the building.
Thus, the plantations that used slaves for sugar production altered the areas in St. Croix to create specified living spaces for the laborers and structures that were used in manufacturing. Dunnavant (2019, 163) argues that the colonizers developed the architectural techniques precisely due to the natural conditions on the island to ensure the resistance towards hurricanes. In most cases, the wattle and daub technique was used to construct the buildings.
This information about St. Croix can help enhance the knowledge of the global environmental issue of the modern era by highlighting the importance of understanding and assessing evidence from historic sites. Dunnavant (2019, 169) points out that the preservation of African heritage across the US, especially in areas subjected to the impact of natural disasters is critical. Overall, Dunnavant’s work presents valuable insight into the development of St. Croix and the effect of slavery.
Dunnavant, Justin (2019). “Historical Ecology of Slavery in the Danish West Indies.” International Studies Forum, University of California, Irvine.