Det svenska kolonialprojektets komplexa rum: om slaveri under svensk flagg i slutet av 1700-talets karibiska och atlantiska värld


  • Holger Weiss Åbo Akademi



Saint Barthélemy, Gustavia, slaves, Swedish slave law


The Complex Space of the Swedish Colonial Project: Slavery under the Swedish
Flag in the Late Eighteenth-Century Caribbean and Atlantic World

When Sweden took over Saint Barthélemy in the Caribbean in 1784, the island was inhabited by French colonists and their slaves. As the island was too small and barren for large-scale plantations, the Swedish authorities decided to declare it a free-port, outlined the site for a new town, and issued an invitation to traders and merchants of any nationality to settle on the island. Within the space of a few years, a Swedish cosmopolitan town, Gustavia, was in place beside La Campagne, the French-dominated countryside. This essay takes a critical look at the first twenty years of the Swedish era on the island. A special focus is placed on the question of slavery and the coloured division of space on the island. Similar to all other late eighteenth-century Caribbean slave societies, the Swedish island simultaneously contained a hegemonic white space and a dominated and controlled black space. It was a multiracial and multi-ethnic society inhabited by white naturalized citizens and burghers, visiting white foreign merchants and émigrées, second-class semi-citizens comprised of freed slaves and gens de couleur, and African and Creole slaves. While the first two groups enjoyed certain rights, the lives of the latter two groups were controlled and regulated by slave laws and other legal restrictions.


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