Everyday Life in the Tropics

Contemporary Archaeology and the Swedish Immigrant Colony in Bayate, Cuba


  • Håkan Karlsson University of Gothenburg
  • Thomas Gustafsson Hispanist and historian, Stockholm




Bayate, contemporary archaeology, Cuba, everyday life, material culture, Swedish immigration colony, social identity


Swedish emigration to the US during the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century is well documented by historians and statisticians, but this is not the case with Swedish emigration to Cuba, which is largely unknown. This article introduces the project Everyday Life in the Tropics: The “Forgotten” Swedish Immigrant Colony in Bayate, Cuba and the results of its initial fieldwork at the former colony of Bayate and its surroundings in November 2022. The objective of this work was to initiate documentation of the material remains of the Bayate colony, which flourished from 1905 to 1920 and was finally dissolved in the 1930s, through a survey of the remains of buildings and other structures and investigating the extent and nature of these for future research. It is stressed that the areas inside and outside the nucleus of the colony hold huge potential for further archaeological investigations/excavations, and for studying the social and material aspects of the everyday life of the colonists, through the combination of historical, archaeological, anthropological and botanical evidence. It is also possible to focus on the colonists’ construction of identities due to their cross-cultural interactions with Cuban society, and on how these eventually led to social and material continuity or change.

Author Biographies

  • Håkan Karlsson, University of Gothenburg

    Håkan Karlsson is Professor of Archaeology at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg. His major focus of research is the present sociopolitical dimensions and functions of archaeology and cultural heritage, and the archaeology of the contemporary past. He has written several books and numerous articles on these topics, and has presented his findings at conferences worldwide. At present he is leading a number of contemporary archaeological projects, mainly in Cuba.

  • Thomas Gustafsson, Hispanist and historian, Stockholm

    Thomas Gustafsson is writer, journalist and Hispanist. He has worked as a journalist since the beginning of the 1980s, for much of his career as a foreign correspondent in Madrid and Latin America. He has written about twenty books on Spain, Cuba and Latin America.


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How to Cite

Karlsson, H., & Gustafsson, T. (2024). Everyday Life in the Tropics: Contemporary Archaeology and the Swedish Immigrant Colony in Bayate, Cuba. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 10(2), 291-309. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.26210