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An Archaeological History of Montserrat in the West Indies (Paperback)

World History > The Americas

By John F. Cherry, Krysta Ryzewski
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 90 colour and 24 b/w images
ISBN: 9781789253900
Published: 31st January 2020
Casemate UK Academic

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Montserrat is a small island in the Leeward islands of the eastern Caribbean and at present a British Overseas Territory. It has suffered greatly in recent times, first from the devastations of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and since 1995 from the still-ongoing eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano that has caused two-thirds of the island’s population to emigrate and left half the island a dangerous exclusion zone. Archaeological research here began only in the late 1970s, but work over the past four decades has now made it possible to present an archaeological history of Montserrat, from the earliest known traces of human activity on the island about 5,000 years ago to the present.

 

This book draws on all the available archaeological evidence (including that from the co-authors’ own island-wide survey and excavation project since 2010), as well as newly available archival documents, to trace this little island’s long history and heritage. This is not the story of an isolated and remote island: Montserrat is shown rather to be a place intricately connected to the flows of people and goods that have travelled between islands and across the Atlantic at various points in time, both Amerindian and historical. Despite its small size and seeming irrelevance, Montserrat has in fact always been networked into regional and global systems of connectivity. An underlying theme of this volume is resilience. It presents insights from the archaeological and documentary evidence on how the island’s inhabitants have coped with often adverse conditions throughout the course of its history – hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, slavery, disease, invasions, and impoverishment – all while remaining proudly connected to heritage that celebrates the  accomplishments of island residents.

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