Caribbean free villages

Toward an anthropology of blackness, place, and freedom

by Karla Slocum

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In the 1950s, Sidney Mintz carried out a short study of Caribbean settlements known as free villages. These communities were designed by Baptists as postemancipation social and economic living spaces for formerly enslaved Afro-descendant peoples. Mintz was ultimately interested in establishing a village typology, describing how the church shaped villagers’ social and moral lives and gauging the communities’ capacity as a site of Afro-Caribbean peasant resistance to plantations. This work influenced later studies of creolization, land, and the peasantry in free villages, as well as inquiries into the contemporary political-economic and historical context of Afro-Caribbean villages generally. Mintz's analysis can also be helpful for thinking through questions about social processes of rural place-making and investments in freedom among people of African descent. [peasantries, land, place, community, freedom, Sidney Mintz, Caribbean]