THE MARK OF CANE: A MICROECONOMIC CASE STUDY OF PROFITABILITY, ACCOUNTING AND PLANTATION MANAGEMENT ON THREE BARBADIAN SUGAR PLANTATIONS, 1763-1815
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This microeconomic case study of sugarcane plantation management, accounting and profitability examines three Barbadian plantations, Newton, Seawell and Mount Alleyne from 1763 to 1815, with an econometric methodology. Despite facing various economic, political, demographic and ecological challenges in the wake of the American Revolutionary War and Great Hurricane of 1780, Barbadian planters were able to maintain consistently high profits by adopting novel, inventive strategies of plantation management. This thesis argues that Barbadian sugar plantations remained highly profitable throughout the late 1700s and furthermore produced most of the provisions required to feed their slave populations domestically rather than importing them. It examines the nature of the Atlantic world plantation complex, arguing that sugar plantations should be conceptualised as places of brutalising violence and dehumanising oppression, proto-industrial "factories in the field", elaborate capitalist enterprises with a diversity of labour and production and as dynamic nexuses of meticulous planning and innovation.