Life after Slavery: Living Conditions and Survival Strategies of the Formerly Enslaved Population of St. Eustatius in the Post-emancipation Caribbean, 1863–1909
The abolition of slavery in the Dutch West Indies in 1863 and the consequent emancipation of enslaved people is one of the most critical yet understudied events in the history of St. Eustatius. This thesis aims to at least partially fill this gap by exploring the living conditions and survival strategies of the formerly enslaved people of Statia. It does so by relying on a variety of demographic sources, namely the borderellen, emancipation registers, colonial reports, and civil registry. But why did first-generation, formerly enslaved Statians rely on migration and the family, in particular, as survival strategies after emancipation between 1863 and 1909? Evidence suggests that, on the one hand, formerly enslaved people found themselves in a miserable socio-economic position after emancipation. On the other hand, socio-cultural norms and values about marriage and family enforced a gap between rich and poor, and between the free and emancipated populations.
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