Research topics

The team of IN THE SAME SEA works collaboratively with five research themes. Exploring these themes, allow us to answer questions about the movement of people, goods, and ideas, in short resources, between the islands of the Lesser Antilles.

John Gordon, free man of color, Antigua, 1820s (Trelawney Wentworth); courtesy of Tortoise Hunting, French West Indies, 17th century; courtesy of the John Carter Brown library Whip used to punished enslaved people, made of twisted animal skin, 1800s; courtesy of Danish National Museum Two women chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas, 1856 (Camille Pissarro)-wikimedia-commons View of a hurricane in the Antilles, 1783; courtesy of The John Carter Brown Library

Resources gained from neighbouring islands included fresh food and fresh water, new ideas and rumours, rapid aid in the face of rebellion or natural disaster, access to the embodied expertise of ritual healers, medical caretakers, and rebellious leaders, knowledge of easily adaptable legal and managerial practices designed to maintain slavery, and, naturally, the reliable support of family members, friends, and resistant collaborators living nearby, across the sea.


The story of trade in the Lesser Antilles has predominantly focused on long-distance commerce, its diverse imperial frameworks, and the contraband trade which existed irrespective of these structures. In contrast, IN THE SAME SEA focuses on trade between the islands, and islanders’ consumption of island goods.

Taking its cue from the ex-slave Olaudah Equiano’s famous and successful attempts to obtain his freedom, which began with petty commerce in limes and oranges in the Lesser Antilles, we begin with the assumption that dry goods and luxury imports alone could not satisfy the needs and desires of islanders.