Amerindians in the Eighteenth Century Plantation System of the Guianas

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Dutch relations with Amerindian societies in their South American colonies began in the early seventeenth century. This contact increased during the eighteenth century, when Amerindians were slaves, slavers, and plantation enforcers for the Dutch. These roles transitioned over time and unevenly extended across the Amerindian societies within the Dutch colonies. The early configuration of the Dutch colonies relied upon Amerindians for trade. With the further development of the Dutch colonies, some societies were repeatedly the targets of slaving while other societies were allied with the Dutch and acted as slavers. Later, with the large-scale introduction of African slaves, some Amerindians became plantation enforcers. Amerindian enforcement of the plantation system was gradually institutionalized during the late eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, Amerindians had become the integral component in Dutch efforts to prevent uprisings by African-descent slaves, to pursue runaway slaves, to attack maroon camps, and to stabilize a
plantation system at risk of open rebellion. With a primary emphasis on Essequibo and
Demerara, this article will delineate the roles of Amerindians within the plantation system of
the Guianas in the eighteenth century
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalTipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Guianas
  • Amerindians
  • Plantations


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