Architecture and Empire in Jamaica


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Louis P. Nelson


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Through Creole houses and merchant stores to sugar fields and boiling houses, Jamaica played a leading role in the formation of both the early modern Atlantic world and the British Empire. Architecture and Empire in Jamaica offers the first scholarly analysis of Jamaican architecture in the long 18th century, spanning roughly from the Port Royal earthquake of 1692 to Emancipation in 1838. In this richly illustrated study, which includes hundreds of the author’s own photographs and drawings, Louis P. Nelson examines surviving buildings and archival records to write a social history of architecture.
Nelson begins with an overview of the architecture of the West African slave trade then moves to chapters framed around types of buildings and landscapes, including the Jamaican plantation landscape and fortified houses to the architecture of free blacks. He concludes with a consideration of Jamaican architecture in Britain. By connecting the architecture of the Caribbean first to West Africa and then to Britain, Nelson traces the flow of capital and makes explicit the material, economic, and political networks around the Atlantic. 

Louis P. Nelson is professor of architectural history and associate dean for research in the School of Architecture, University of Virginia.

Architecture and Empire in Jamaica is a tour de force of fieldwork-based scholarship but it keeps its fieldwork in service to bigger ambitions, illustrating what the built environment says about the most central social and economic issues of the era.”—Mary Corbin Sies, University of Maryland

"Not simply recommended, [Architecture and Empire in Jamaica] is essential reading for every scholar of Caribbean vernacular or high-style architecture."—Jay D. Edwards, Journal of Historical Geography

Won an Honorable Mention in the Architecture & Urban Planning category for the 2017 American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE).

Winner of the 2017 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize given by the Foundation for Landscape Studies.

Winner of the 2017 Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize given by the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

Winner of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians' 2017 SESAH Book Award
ISBN: 9780300211009
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
324 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
52 color + 198 b/w illus.
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