Caribbean Society and Culture

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					Caribbean Society and Culture

       The Role of Historical

   Experiences with Plantation Slavery - (Europe,
    Africa, Caribbean)

   Experiences with Indentureship

   Colonialism

   Indigenous Populations
                        The Result
    Caribbean culture is a rich amalgam of European, African, East
    Indian, Asian, Plantation, Colonial and Indigenous influences,
    heritages and cultures

    Caribbean Theorizing - Creole (process of interculturation),
    Plural (mixing but not combining), Plantation Society
    (dependent economies; enclaves of Metropole)
           Manifestations of Influences
    Language, Street names, Parishes
   Music, Games, Sport (cricket, football)

   Religion

   System of Social Stratification & Population Structure

   Food

   Legal/judicial, Political & Educational Systems

    Economic Arrangements
         Other Legacies of Plantation &
              Colonial Heritages

   Economic Structure

       Dependence on metropole
       Economies adjuncts of metropolitan economies
       Producers of primary products/raw materials
       Heavy dependence on imports (debt)
       Maintenance of preferential trading arrangements
        (bananas, sugar)
       Likeness for things foreign
        Other Legacies of Plantation &
         Colonial Heritages (cont’d.)

   Treatment of Class, Race, Colour

       Light complexion, European physical features &

       Notions of „good‟ and „bad‟ hair
    Pride of Caribbean Identity

   Music & Festivals

   Rastafarianism

   Language

   W.I. Cricket Team (Chanderpaul, Lara, Powell, etc.)
     Resistance to Colonialism &

   Rastafarianism

   Garveyism

   Black Nationalism

   Retention of Cultural forms of Countries of Origin
   The problem of identity has always been an issue in the
    modern Caribbean.

   One of the earliest lines of cleavage was that between
    whites and mixed elements (creoles).

   Rivalry was succeeded between Afro-creoles and
    indentured workers (TT, Guyana and Suriname)
    (Selwyn Ryan, 2002: JACAS Symposium Series 15)
   The term has varying meanings in the Caribbean.

   Stuart Hall (1977: 164) states “ the term itself is hard to
    define, it‟s ambiguity being itself an index of its complex
    articulation with the structured form of the cultures and
    groups with which it interacts.”

   Lowenthal (1972: 32-33) The term was originally used to
    define African slaves born in the new world. Later
    extended to “…anyone, black or white, born in the West
    Indies…then extended to things, habits and
    ideas…opinions expressed”
   Nettleford (1997: 74) Whites born in the American
    colonies were regarded as “creoles” by their metropolitan

   Jamaican born slaves were similarly differentiated from
    their “salt-water negro” colleagues freshly brought in
    from West Africa.

   Genuine Caribbean expressions are regarded as those that
    have been “creolized” into indigenous form and purpose
    distinctively different from the original elements from
    which those expressions first sprang.
   Brathwaite (1974) Creolization is the process through
    which the various groups in the Caribbean society absorb
    each other‟s cultural products.

   The Africans and Indians imitated or were forced to
    imitate the Europeans.

   Europeans inadvertently but at times consciously
    absorbed some of the cultural styles, languages and
    mores of the subordinate groups.
   The Africans and Indians acculturated while the
    European‟s process was defined as interculturation.

   The former is the result of the yoking of cultures by force
    and example while the latter is an unplanned,
    unconscious and osmotic relationship following from the
    yoking process.
                 African Retention

   One of the main proponents of the African retention school
    is Melville Herskovits

   Slavery did not totally destroy the African culture

   African culture has survived in various forms in the
                African Retention

   African cultural forms survived in three main ways:

    1. Survivals- cultural forms that closely resemble the
    original African forms. For example, the practice of
    burying the umbilical chord of a child and planting a fruit
    tree over it
                 African Retention

   2. Syncretisms- the practice of identifying elements in the
    new culture with parallel components of the old. An
    example is the practice of identifying Catholic saints with
    African deities

   3. Reinterpretations- This is seen where African culture is
    reinterpreted to suite the new environment. An example of
    this is the reinterpretations of African polygamy as
    progressive monogamy.