• Caribbean;
  • peasants;
  • political ecology;
  • Saint Vincent;
  • soil conservation

ABSTRACT. A political-ecological perspective is used to analyze soil erosion, conservation, and the peasantry on Saint Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean. Peasants farm areas most susceptible to erosion because of the historical development of property relationships. A soil-conservation effort begun in the late 1930s was part of a broader, British Empire-wide program. Local political-economic conditions and the environmental and technical characteristics of the cropping systems influenced the nature of soil conservation on Saint Vincent. Official colonial discourse about erosion reflected a complex mixture of blaming peasants and recognizing their political-economic constraints.