Sugar cane cutters in Jamaica, Caribbean

This photograph shows workers cutting cane in about 1880. The workers are made to pose to depict a seemingly happy natural scene, taking a break from their work. Some are pretending to chew on the cane they have cut. The man on the right wearing a suit and hat may be the European plantation manager or owner. Although they were no longer slaves at this time, the conditions for the workers were not much better and harvesting sugar cane was still back-breaking work. Look closely at the expressions on the faces of the workers and see what they say about their lifestyle. The photographer could have shown the cane cutters at work, or the way in which the land had fallen into chaos since slavery was abolished. He could also have shown the poor conditions plantation workers still lived in after the end of slavery.

© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

Accession reference: National Maritime Museum, ZBA2612