Chatoyer’s Punch Ladle: A Museum Artifact that Speaks to the Hidden History of the Garifuna, an African-Caribbean People

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Abstract

This paper contextualizes the artifact “Punch Ladle, 1773” on display in the “London, Sugar & Slavery” exhibition at Museum of London Docklands (UK). A placard identifies the ladle as once belonging to “Chatoyer, Chief of the Caribs” and as on loan by the West India Committee. Through this artifact, the largely forgotten story of Chatoyer and the so-called Black Caribs (Garifuna) is highlighted, while complexities of the artifact’s provenance are analyzed through an object biography approach. The paper also considers the ethical and curatorial implications of the current non-repatriation of the artifact and its present location within the “Slave Owner” part of the exhibition. Finally, by arguing for the artifact’s global significance through its association with Chatoyer, a historic African-Caribbean figure of colonial resistance, this article contributes to current museum decolonization debates.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • African-Caribbean
  • Chatoyer
  • Garifuna
  • Object biography
  • St. Vincent
  • curatorial space
  • decolonization
  • repatriation

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