Home > Introduction


The following exhibits map acts of sexual violence on a particular plantation – called Breadnut Island Pen, owned by an Englishman named Thomas Thistlewood - in the parish of Westmoreland in Jamaica in the late eighteenth century. The exhibits map this property and use Neatline to show where Thistlewood’s individual acts of brutality, stigmatization, and caretaking took place. I’m interested in relations of space and the extension of sympathy, or its absence.

As Louis Nelson points out, “sites of terror,” like the whipping post, or the scenes of rapes, don't survive physically, nor do they appear on plantation plans. My project uses Thistlewood's detailed diaries to locate these “sites” where they do survive, in text, and to retroactively map them in the digital space.

Thistlewood lived on Breadnut Island Pen from September, 1767 until his death in November, 1786, and in that time he committed fifteen hundred and eighty four acts of rape. The rapes that took place on Breadnut Island Pen are particularly mappable because Thistlewood kept very detailed accounts of exactly where on the Pen the rapes took place (it seems there was an obsessive component to these entries). This mapping project has provided various insights into the relationship between Thistlewood’s acts of sexual violence and particular spaces on the plantation.