Louis P. Nelson
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Architectures of empire in Jamaica
The Irish connection
in Ireland, slavery and the Caribbean
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Eighteenth-century Jamaica offers seemingly innumerable examples of defensive domestic architecture, suggesting that the British occupation of Jamaica was from its inception marked by a clear sense of martial contest. This militarisation of the domestic sphere differentiates Jamaica from the colonies of the American mainland. Yet there are some extraordinary parallels between the plantation houses of mid-eighteenth-century Jamaica and early-seventeenth-century Ireland. Both are marked by militarised towered houses. Just as Munster in southern Ireland boasts a large number of English-built manor houses defined largely by four prominent corner towers, so too does that form prevail in the older more predominantly English parishes of Clarendon and St Dorothy on Jamaica. Drawing from a centuries-long practice in the British colonial landscape, newly wealthy planters in Jamaica used architecture to assert their authority over a contested landscape. And just as Ulster exhibited a number of Scottish-derived towered houses, usually with appended or freestanding defensive flankers, so, too, is this form evident in Jamaica, again built largely by Scots. Emigrating Scots were not unfamiliar with the militarisation of houses in a colonial context. The architecture of Jamaica is best positioned not in light of contemporary developments in America, but as an extension of the architecture beyond the pale.

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Ireland, slavery and the Caribbean

Interdisciplinary perspectives


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