Simplicity, Equality, and Slavery

An Archaeology of Quakerism in the British Virgin Islands, 1740-1780

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John M. Chenoweth
Florida Museum of Natural History: Ripley P. Bullen Series
  • Gainesville, FL: 
    University of Florida Press
    , March
     266 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Sarah Crabtree forthcoming.


Inspired by the Quaker ideals of simplicity, equality, and peace, a group of white planters formed a community in the British Virgin Islands during the eighteenth century. Yet they lived in a slave society, and nearly all their members held enslaved people. In this book, John Chenoweth examines how the community navigated the contradictions of Quakerism and plantation ownership.

Using archaeological and archival information, Chenoweth reveals how a web of connections led to the community's establishment, how Quaker religious practices intersected with other aspects of daily life in the Caribbean, and how these practices were altered to fit a slavery-based economy and society. He also examines how dissent and schism eventually brought about the end of the community after just one generation. This is a fascinating study of the ways religious ideals can be interpreted in everyday practice to adapt to different local contexts.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

John M. Chenoweth is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

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