Cul de Sac: Plantation Society in Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study is a micro-history of plantation life in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the decades preceding the French Revolution. Although it was France’s richest colony, even at the height of its development this plantation society was remarkably fragile and susceptible to the sort of crises that erupted in the 1790s, leading to the destruction of Saint-Domingue’s plantation complex and to Haitian independence in 1804. In focusing on one plantation in the highly developed area of Cul de Sac, this project shows how rural Saint-Domingue was an isolated place with a distinctive culture, social structure, and set of economic rhythms; at the same time, it was connected to France and exposed to a wider Atlantic world in peculiar ways that shaped its development.