Cul De Sac: Patrimony, Capitalism, And Slavery In French Saint-domingue

Hardcover | March 8, 2017

byPaul Cheney

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In the eighteenth century, the Cul de Sac plain in Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, was a vast open-air workhouse of sugar plantations. This microhistory of one plantation owned by the Ferron de la Ferronnayses, a family of Breton nobles, draws on remarkable archival finds to show that despite the wealth such plantations produced, they operated in a context of social, political, and environmental fragility that left them weak and crisis prone.

Focusing on correspondence between the Ferronnayses and their plantation managers, Cul de Sac proposes that the Caribbean plantation system, with its reliance on factory-like production processes and highly integrated markets, was a particularly modern expression of eighteenth-century capitalism. But it rested on a foundation of economic and political traditionalism that stymied growth and adaptation. The result was a system heading toward collapse as planters, facing a series of larger crises in the French empire, vainly attempted to rein in the inherent violence and instability of the slave society they had built. In recovering the lost world of the French Antillean plantation, Cul de Sac ultimately reveals how the capitalism of the plantation complex persisted not as a dynamic source of progress, but from the inertia of a degenerate system headed down an economic and ideological dead end.

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In the eighteenth century, the Cul de Sac plain in Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, was a vast open-air workhouse of sugar plantations. This microhistory of one plantation owned by the Ferron de la Ferronnayses, a family of Breton nobles, draws on remarkable archival finds to show that despite the wealth such plantations produced, they opera...

Paul Cheney is associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 8, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022607935X

ISBN - 13:9780226079356

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction. The Colonial Cul de Sac

1. Province and Colony
2. Production and Investment
3. Humanity and Interest
4. War and Profit
5. Husband and Wife
6. Revolution and Cultivation
7. Evacuation and Indemnity

Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Sources and Abbreviations
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“This deeply researched and richly detailed study of one plantation reconstructs and illuminates the complex world of colonial Saint-Domingue. Through the story of the Cul de Sac plain, Cheney offers a layered and insightful analysis of the relationship between slavery, trade, commerce, and policy in the eighteenth-century French Atlantic.”