Barbadian Gothic: The Moving Coffins of the Chase Vault in Socio-Cultural Context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The Chase family vault (Oistins, Barbados) is widely known as the setting of a macabre early nineteenth-century story of moving coffins. On several occasions between 1812 and 1821, on opening the sealed vault to add a new burial, the neatly stacked coffins within (some of which were of heavy lead), were found scattered. This legend has never been examined within its contemporary setting, including the Gothic literary and cultural movement. This article seeks to show that the episode reveals much about the negotiation of power roles in an island society on the edge of slave rebellion, where the planter class were fearful of the enslaved peoples’ continued practice of the banned spiritual and healing rituals known as Obeah. It further examines how the story reflects notions of otherness, death, materiality, and memory in early nineteenth-century Barbados, where the ordered Protestant world of the planters clashed with what they perceived as the elemental worldview of the enslaved African and Afro-Barbadian population.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalFolklore
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2019

Cite this

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abstract = "The Chase family vault (Oistins, Barbados) is widely known as the setting of a macabre early nineteenth-century story of moving coffins. On several occasions between 1812 and 1821, on opening the sealed vault to add a new burial, the neatly stacked coffins within (some of which were of heavy lead), were found scattered. This legend has never been examined within its contemporary setting, including the Gothic literary and cultural movement. This article seeks to show that the episode reveals much about the negotiation of power roles in an island society on the edge of slave rebellion, where the planter class were fearful of the enslaved peoples’ continued practice of the banned spiritual and healing rituals known as Obeah. It further examines how the story reflects notions of otherness, death, materiality, and memory in early nineteenth-century Barbados, where the ordered Protestant world of the planters clashed with what they perceived as the elemental worldview of the enslaved African and Afro-Barbadian population.",
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Barbadian Gothic : The Moving Coffins of the Chase Vault in Socio-Cultural Context. / Welch, Christina; Finneran, Niall.

In: Folklore, 15.07.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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