Abstract

The Moravians established the Bethany and Emmaus missions on the Caribbean island of St. John in 1754 and 1782 respectively. The missionaries provided religious and educational outlets to many of the island's enslaved and free Africans. Despite claims of spiritual equality, black Moravians and white Moravians experienced differential access to burial sites and commemorative resources on St. John. Such contexts gradually changed over time as enslaved laborers were freed in 1848, the number of white Moravian missionaries declined, and Afro-Moravians increasingly assumed congregational leadership. Through the interpretation of church cemeteries, family property burial sites, and documentary analysis, this study investigates how Moravians on St. John spatially and materially communicated and transformed religious identities, race relationships, and kinship and communal ties over time from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

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