Benjamin D. Siegel
THE IMPACT OF EMPIRE: THE EFFECTS OF BRITISH IMPERIAL CULTURE ON THE COLONIAL MARITIME LANDSCAPE OF BLUEFIELDS BAY, JAMAICA.
(Under the direction of Professor David Stewart) Department of History, December 2011.
The history of Bluefields Bay diverges from the widely accepted model of eighteenth century histories of the British Caribbean and Imperial Jamaica. Bluefields' colonial society was not sugar based because local planters were not wealthy enough to grow or refine it. Nor did the bay thrive as a bustling commercial port, like Port Royal, but instead simply served as a rendezvous for naval and commercial convoys. Because of its size, remoteness, and irrelevance, to the Imperial economy we might expect to find in Bluefields Bay a landscape free of Imperial influence. This, however, is not the case.
In 2009 the author conducted a Phase I non-invasive archaeological survey of the bay's seafloor and coastline. This survey revealed the location of an eighteenth century or early nineteenth century shallow water anchorage likely used by British ships-of-the-line, and relocated and examined remnants of the bay's coastal fortifications and economic centers. Surprisingly, this examination of the bay's landscape revealed that the patterns of use, types of structures erected, and commercial products produced in the region all allude to the prevalence of an Imperial culture in Colonial Bluefields Bay.