Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xvi

List of Maps

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pp. xvii-xviii

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Preface

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pp. xix-xxii

In March 1993, I was a potter on holiday in the Caribbean, attempting to navigate through the crowded central marketplace in the city of Castries, Saint Lucia. While I knew almost nothing about the Caribbean, what I did know was ceramics, and my guidebook had promised that this was the place to find local pottery. Coming from the luxurious, all-inclusive confines of my family vacation, I was completely unprepared for the sensory overload of a Caribbean market—the intense smells and colors of tropical spices, fruits and vegetables I could not recognize, outdoor butcher shops and indoor fish stalls, lots of vendors and not enough customers....

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

As a first-time author trying to condense almost twenty-five years of interaction with potters across the Caribbean and around the world into a single book, I needed a lot of help. Jumping on planes every summer to go to beautiful places and meet fascinating people is one thing, but writing it all down is something else altogether. I had always hoped to tell these stories with pictures, and I would first like to thank the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making those pictures possible, and James Wohlpart and Amy Gorelick for guiding me toward the opportunity. Stephanye Hunter and the staff of the University Press of Florida have been...

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1. Introduction: Old Pots Make Good Soup

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pp. 1-14

One-pot meals are a singular feature of Caribbean cooking, deeply satisfying soups and stews with local names that range from “rundown” and “cookup” to pepperpot, callaloo, and bouyon. These complex mixtures of Old and New World ingredients are universally popular, and are often used as a metaphor for the social and cultural diversity of the region. The pot itself is rarely mentioned, however, except in the case of the many versions of the French Creole proverb quoted above, all of which say essentially the same thing: old pots make good soup. As with any well-used proverb, the implications extend beyond the literal translation. Old pots...

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2. Saint Lucia: Tout Moun Ki Ka Fè Kannawi

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pp. 15-46

The country of Saint Lucia has a rich and complicated history out of all proportion to its geographic size of fourteen miles wide and twenty-seven miles long. In the southern end of the island, the district of Choiseul is home to a substantial community of women potters of African and Amerindian descent who continue to make functional pots using traditional, inherited ceramic technologies. With more than two dozen active producers, they represent the largest group of this kind in the Anglophone Caribbean. The work of these potters and others like them throughout the region bears witness to the self-sufficient craft practices that...

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3. Shaping Culture: Traditional Forms

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pp. 47-68

The traditional earthenware forms produced by the potters in Choiseul are entirely and intentionally functional, originally designed to serve rural, village, estate, and urban consumers in colonial, post-emancipation Saint Lucia. The quote above from the mid-twentieth century testifies that locally made pottery continued in general use in the kitchens of the Caribbean until quite recently, and some forms, particularly the coalpot, have maintained their relevance to the present day. As lifestyles in the region have undergone dramatic transformations during the past several decades, St. Lucian potters have had to consider the changing interests...

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4. Process: Production Methods in Choiseul

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pp. 69-96

Every coalpot, kannawi, chòdyè, and flowerpot made by the women potters of Saint Lucia begins with the sticky, grainy clays found in the volcanic landscape of Choiseul. If the buyer has a critical role in defining which forms are produced, it is the maker who controls how the pots are shaped, finished, and fired. Pottery methods are learned by observation in traditional communities, and passed from generation to generation through the direct engagement of hand to clay. In Saint Lucia the potters all use the same production methods, including the digging and preparation of the clay, the forming and finishing of the vessels in multiple stages,...

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5. Provenance: Creating Context in Saint Lucia

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pp. 97-118

Despite the number of potters working in Choiseul today, and despite the literally millions of functional pots they and their ancestors have made and sold over the past two hundred and fifty years, all mention of this occupation seems to have escaped the historical record. The turbulence of the colonial period in Saint Lucia is certainly a factor in the absence of documentation of everyday life, as local histories tend to focus on the constant battle for control of the island before 1814, its progress as a British colony after this date, and the gradual evolution of the nation state that followed. Natural and manmade disasters have also played a part,...

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6. Creole Clay: Cultural Legacies in Caribbean Ceramics

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pp. 119-134

One summer in the early 2000s the Folk Research Centre in Castries, Saint Lucia, hosted a lecture and discussion on the heritage ceramics produced in Choiseul. Potters Catty Osman and Irena Alphonse came up to Castries for the evening, and we had a fascinating conversation on cultural legacies with the group of historians, archaeologists, educators, craft development specialists, artists, and artisans who attended. It was generally believed that the making of pottery in Choiseul was an occupation inherited from the population of Carib Indians who had settled in this district, and whose contributions were easily recognized in boat building and...

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7. Nevis and Antigua: A Tale of Two Villages

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pp. 135-172

The islands of Nevis and Antigua lie in the northeastern Caribbean in the Leeward Islands group and have in common many geographic, historical, and social characteristics. Both are relatively small, although Antigua, Nevis’ direct neighbor fifty-two miles to the east, is three times its size. They are each members of a two-island state—the official country names are Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda—and have similar histories as economic fixtures in the colonial world of the English sugar plantation. In each country a single village, Newcastle in Nevis and Sea View Farm in Antigua, is publically recognized as the established...

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8. Jamaica: Spanish Town Yabbas and the Kingston Walkaround Style

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pp. 173-216

Jamaica is geographically the largest of the English-speaking island countries of the Caribbean, and holds an equally substantial position in the colonial history of the British West Indies. Following Christopher Columbus’s first landing in 1494, the Spanish held the island as the colony of Santiago from 1509 to 1655, when the English seized this valuable possession and called it Jamaica after the name used by the original Arawak inhabitants. The legacy of the Spanish occupation is easily recognized in the colonial capital of Spanish Town (once Villa de la Vega), and in the classical ceramic form of the large water storage vessel still called a Spanish...

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9. Barbados: The Potters of Chalky Mount

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pp. 217-250

At one hundred and sixty-six square miles and with approximately 290,000 people, the island of Barbados is among the most densely populated countries in the world. As a result of unique geological and historical events, there is also a greater density of potters, and likely more functional pots made per square mile, than in any other country in the Caribbean. In the early twenty-first century there are dozens of pottery studios scattered across the eleven parishes, including Hamilton’s Pottery and Earthworks Pottery in St. Thomas, Highland Pottery in St. Andrew, and Red Clay Pottery near the capital of Bridgetown in St. Michael. The...

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10. Trinidad and Guyana: Indians in the Americas

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pp. 251-286

The first and the last ceramic traditions of the Anglophone Caribbean can be found in Guyana and Trinidad, and by a profoundly ironic historical process both traditions are maintained by potters who are called Indians. In the dense rainforests and sweeping savannahs of Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America, nine tribes of indigenous Amerindians together make up about 9 percent of the Guyanese population. Examples of continuous heritage production exist among the widely scattered Indian villages and settlements in the interior of the country, while along the coast Amerindian pottery traditions disrupted by...

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11. Conclusion: Coalpots and Cruise Ships

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pp. 287-304

In 2014 the combined total of stay-over tourist arrivals and cruise ship passengers visiting Saint Lucia was 979,610, more than five times the local population of this small island.1 Figuring out what to do with all these people, how to spread the potential benefits of the tourist industry from the beaches and cruise ship docks inward to the rest of the country, and how to do this in a sustainable and ethical manner, are the preoccupations of most Caribbean governments in the twentyfirst century. It would appear that by welcoming nearly a million new consumers into Saint Lucia every year there would be enough buying power to go around, but...

Notes

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pp. 305-316

Bibliography

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pp. 317-330

Index

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pp. 331-350