Recently, historians of the early modern Caribbean have begun to move beyond a traditional focus on sugar plantations by highlighting alternate economic, environmental, and political systems that structured the social lives of enslaved and free people. David M. Stark's Slave Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico is a major contribution to this literature. Stark examines the relationship between slave labor, demography, and family structure in Puerto Rico from 1660 to 1815, a period during which the island produced little sugar and legally exported few cash crops. Stark shows that far from being an economic backwater, midcolonial Puerto Rico produced a diversity of commodities, including hides, foodstuffs, and timber, most of which entered the contraband trade. These were the principal products of large rural ranches called hatos, where many of the island's slaves lived and worked. Hatos were less regimented...

You do not currently have access to this content.