Peter E. Siegel
This article examines the evolutionary trajectory of Caribbean archaeology from two perspectives: the disciplinary context of thought at various times from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and the major interests and research agendas of archaeologists working in the Caribbean over that time span. It situates Caribbean archaeology into historical perspective by considering the changing relations between archaeological interpretation and its social and cultural milieu. This review of Caribbean archaeology has three sections: issues and interests from approximately the mid-nineteenth century to 1960, post-1960s trends, and current research interests. In recent years, a growing body of indigenous voices in Caribbean archaeology is expressing resistance to the hegemony of colonialist interpretations of Caribbean pre-Columbian history.
Douglas V. Armstrong
Historical archaeology resonates well with efforts to unravel, understand, explain, and interpret the complex cultural heritage of the Caribbean region. The Caribbean is a diverse region created through the combination of insularity and complex trajectories of local cultural expressions. This article presents an overview of historical archaeology as practiced in the islands over the past 50 years. The discussion includes points of contact, colonialism, plantation systems, slavery and resistance, material-culture studies, and preserving and interpreting cultural heritage. As represented by the diversity of prehistoric cultures, early explorers encountered an array of societies, and ecosystems much modified by human use. From the Columbian encounter, the history of every island was based on unique relationships tied to indigenous lifeways and carried forward as unique expressions of an array of colonial polities.