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.