Sea Islanders - Settlements

Settlement on the islands follows a dispersed pattern with few nucleated centers or villages. On some islands, notably St. Helena, the boundaries of former plantations remain important community markers and define local identity in significant ways. Adult sons strive to acquire land adjacent to their parents on which to build a house and raise their own families; this practice results, over time, in kin-based clusters or compounds of dwellings around a parental "yard." Guthrie has argued that households as social units (as opposed to physical structures) are defined by the presence of a stove and a woman to cook on it; families are defined as those who "eat from the same pot," regardless of where they physically reside. Mobile homes now provide a low-cost alternative to new home construction, although many of the older dwellings conform to the model of the shotgun house, indigenous to the American South. As waterfront property was the first to rise in value (with concomitant increases in taxes), most of the remaining land owned by African Americans is located in the interior, less desirable, portions of the islands.

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