An 18th-Century Cadastral Audit in the Danish West Indies
Author: Hopkins, Daniel
Source: Cartography and Geographic Information Science, Volume 19, Number 2, April 1992 , pp. 69-79(11)
Abstract:Perplexing land disputes arise in the U.S. Virgin Islands, formerly the Danish West Indies, not only because of the archival and linguistic inaccessibility of the original Danish land records, but also because of an unusual experiment with the forms of land tenure and administration in the early 18th century. A neat grid survey system established on the island of St. Croix proved surprisingly intractable, and in 1759, a generation or so after the Danes took possession of the island, an island-wide cadastral audit was conducted. The manuscript record of this inventory, itself a historical reconstruction of the island's land system, is an invaluable indicator of contemporary understandings and practice. The proceedings of the audit, with the associated colonial correspondence, throw light on the economic, intellectual, and lasting legal significance of this early exercise in the elaboration and application of rationalist ideals of order in the administration of land in a New World slave-plantation society.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1992-04-01
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