Caribbean Studies

Category: Caribbean, Gender, Slavery
Last Updated: 10 Feb 2023
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Culture maybe divided into material and non-material culture. Material culture are tangible products of the interactions of members of society example, artifacts, architecture or culinary skills. Non-material culture are the non-tangible beliefs, values and ideas created by the interation of people in a society. Cultural Beliefs Refer to what the collective society feels is true Cultural Values. Refer to the set of people in a society who confer to a myriad of social behaviour. Certain practices are ranked highly if they are perceived as somehow good or valued to society, e. . high positive regard is conferred on persons who demonstrate altruistic qualities such as heroism or patriotism * Values then are shared ideas about how behaviours or depositions are to be ranked in a given culture.

Norms are standards of behaviours that are accepted and emulate from the realm of cultural values the importance of norms is that they invoke a range of rewards and sanctions to be conferred on members of the society according to their behaviours. Cultural Creation These are any arrangements within the institutions that have come about because our forefathers thought that such ways were best for the society to survive, i. e. cultural creations allow the group (society) to organize itself and be perpetuated. These ideas and arrangements are taught to the younger generation so that society would not fall apart.

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Sanctions – a mechanism used to enforce social norms it can be used to reward individuals who uphold the law or to punish individuals who deviate from the law. Sanctions maybe formal i. e. given out by an official body or informal, i. . unplanned or given out by an unofficial body. Homework – draw out a map of the Caribbean labeling each territory and the Caribbean plate identify the Antilles, the windward islands and the leewad silands nstitutions. Social Stratification. This refers to the way a society ranks social groups in terms of status, wealth and prestige. Historically, the systems of social stratification were rigid and based on race and colour. With the demise of slavery, race and colour continue as dominant themes but other factors play their part, e. g. ducation, political affiliation, class, family ties, employment and network. With This hybridization, they coexisted with the archaic people up to 1492 in region such as Western Cuba and they were known as Ciboneys

These groups enjoy the freedom of movement throughout the region and even traded with some mainland territories From the time of contact the Arawak of South America began to migrate northwards navigating the Orinoco river in Venezuela and exploring what is now the Caribbean and the Antilles This migration will continue for hundreds of years until there was a presence on ost Caribbean islands including Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hipiola About 400 years before the coming of the Europeans was the last wave of migrants from South America who were the island Caribs The name Caribs were given by the Spaniards European Migration * Columbus was the first European to carry back tangible evidence of gold and precious stones of the new world (1492).

Following Columbus’ first voyage ( 1492) there were droves of Spaniards flocking to the Caribbean in search of wealth They comprised of conquistadors (conquerors) who came to pillage (reign); priests came to convert the ‘heathens’ and administrators came to organize the society and ensure that gold and silver of the Spanish went only to Spain The first Spanish settlers in the region settled in Hipiola this was so because gold was found there and there were a large number of Tainos who were used as labour in search for more gold Upon their arrival for the greed of gold and wealth they raged war against the Tainos stealing their gold, enslaving them, killing their leaders and exhausting the mines they owned They also set up the encomienda system Encomienda system – natives pay the Spaniards taxes of gold in return for salvation by converting to Christianity It is evident that the genocide of the native Caribbean people were done mainly by the Spanish more than any other European nation Account for the conflicting conceptions of a place called the Caribbean

Those migrants who continued to come following the initial groves came to settle They were mainly royalties who were sent to ensure that Spain’s interests were intact The royal African company set up a fort called Cape Coast Castle along the Gold Coast of Ghana. These forts were set up for three reasons- 1. Protection from rivals and foes. 2. Storage area for slaves, 3. Storage area for goods (gold trinkets, etc. for trading or bartering for slaves)

Even though trade was on the coast it affected a region miles inward. They captured slaves by raids at first then with the help of rival African groups. This was the first part of the triangular trade Once the left the post of Africa they set towards the Caribbean (Middle Passage). The voyage across the Atlantic ocean lasted 2 to 3 months. The conditions abroad the ship were inhuman. Once they got to the Caribbean and were sold, the Europeans offloaded the slaves and reloaded the ships with cargo of sugar, molasses an rum to be transported to Europe, hence completing the triangular trade. Triangular Trade 1. Trinkets of gold (other goods) Africa 2.

Slaves captured in Africa Caribbean 3. Cargo: Sugar, molasses, etc. Europe Caribbean Europe Africa Caribbean Impact of the Slave Trade  Directly linked to the need for labor, the colonies where plantations were first established tended to developed African populations before others. In the British, French and Dutch colonies, the African segment of the population became dominant. Spain was slow to introduce plantations to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, therefore over centuries, fewer Africans were imported. E. g. In 1750, in St. Domingue, there were 164 859 slaves and in Jamaica, 127 881 and Cuba, 28 760. Yet by 1880, in Cuba, there were 199 094. Abolition of Slave Trade 1804- British abolished Slave Trade * 1814- Dutch abolished Slave Trade * 1818- French abolished Slave Trade Abolition of Slavery 1834- British abolished Slavery 1848- French abolished Slavery 1863- The Dutch abolished Slavery 1886- Slavery was abolished in Cuba Apprenticeship 1834-1838 was the apprenticeship period. The ex-slaves had to work long hours of free labor on their master’s plantation to get a small plot of land in return to build a house and make a profit off the land. But the time-off was negligible so no profits could be made. After 1838, there were new problems arising on the plantation i. e. the cost of labor(wages).

There was strong conflict over wages between the whites and the blacks which led the planters to a new labor supply i. e. indentured laborers. The Rise of Sugar By the 1640s only tobacco was the most suitable crop for large-scale production Due to a number of factors however sugar was introduced into the British Leeward Islands and soon after it became more important than tobacco Factors that accounted for the changeover from tobacco to sugar the role of the Dutch – under the supervision of the Dutch sugar was introduced into the English and French islands. The Dutch provided necessary credit and bought the produce of the infant colonies (English and French colonies).

They also furnished the colonists with European manufactures and food stuff tobacco produced in the colonies could no longer compete in quality and quantity to the U. S the combination of West-Indian and Virginian tobacco created a glut on the world market which inevitably affected the price social habits in Europe were changing around this period. Drinking of tea and coffee became a norm therefore something cheaper than honey was needed to sweeten beverages the effects of the change from tobacco to sugar in the West Indies has been termed the Sugar Revolution the changes profoundly affected the economic conditions, social structure and political organization of the islands Plantation as a total institution total institution is an institution where all parts of life of individuals under the institution are subordinated to and dependent upon authorities of the organization for example prisons, mental institutions or boarding schools on the plantations all aspects of life are conducted in the same place under the same single authority, i. e. all aspects of life were supervised under the watchful eye of the planter carefully structured activities usually serve an ultimate goal on the plantation activities were structured to serve the ultimate goal of maximization of profits of economic activity social mobility is grossly restricted n the plantation one’s status was ascribed and therefore there was little or no chance of upward social mobility Indentureship

To a large extent indentureship was introduced to compensate for a lack of labour on the plantations following the emancipation of slavery, especially in larger islands The ex-slaves were demanding wages that the planters did not agree on therefore they moved inland to establish their own smaller farms. However in smaller islands, such as Antigua, St. Kitts and Barbados The ex-slaves did not have many options hence they stayed and worked on the plantations for the wages offered by the planters The indenture migration, in terms of numbers, involved probably the most important of post-emancipation movements. Its impact on the demographic conditions. As well as the social and economic structure, especially in the case of Guyana and Trinidad has been far-reaching.

The largest element of indentured workers and their families to enter the region came from India. They were brought in to maintain the industry This decreased when the demand for sugar declined and towards the end of the 19th century when heavy competition from beet sugar and from other cane-producing areas This brought economic depression to the Caribbean Between 1838-1917 the total number of East-Indian immigrants brought to the region was 429 600 Other immigrants including Portuguese who played no important role in the plantations as they drifted early into towns to engage in commercial activities. There were also small numbers of Chinese and Lebanese who came into the region Emigration to Caribbean and other Countries

This phase of migration represents a new type affecting the region and lasting from the 1880s up to 1921 occurring as it did at a time when indentured migration was declining, it helped to slow down further rates of growth and in some cases, notably in Barbados, it was chiefly responsible for declines in population that took place after 1881. The main outward movement in the West Indies was in the1880s to Panama for the construction of the Panama Canal. Another development within the region was the establishment of the banana industry in Costa Rico. This perishable fruit had to be transported swiftly from the fields to ports for shipment. Therefore it called for the construction of railways.

Work on the construction of these lines as well as on the banana plantations called for types of labour not available in Costa Rica and Jamaica was able to supply the necessary labour needed for these operations. On the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 many of the workers from Jamaica instead of returning home moved on to Costa Rica. When Cuba came under the influence of the United States in 1899 another attraction to emigrate appeared for Jamaican workers It is estimated that up to 1921 emigration from Jamaica to Cuba totaled 22,000 Emigration from West Indian territories was not confined to destinations within the Caribbean A major source of attraction up to 1921 was the United States the freedom of entry into the US up to 1921 resulted in a considerable exodus to that destination. urthermore uunfavorable economic conditions associated with hurricanes, world war I, the severe depression in the sugar industry all provided added incentives to emigrate to the US To summarise, the period from the 1880s up to 1921 was dominated by emigration to an extent which virtually offset the small increments arriving from indentured immigration. Probably the population which were most heavily affected were Barbados and Jamaica Modern Migratory Movements The period from the 1920s up to World War 2 was not marked by any substantial out flows except for relatively small movements. This was because of the development of a new industry in the region (oil).

The growth of this industry in the Dutch Antilles and Trinidad affected the populations of smaller English speaking islands. In response to demands for labour to work in the expanding oil centres Movement from Windward Islands to Trinidad and Curacao took place. Emigration from the Caribbean following WWII was a direct consequence of contacts made between West Indian population and the UK. Many of the former went to serve in the British was effort. High levels of unemployment in the region further stimulated this emigration. Conditions within the UK greatly facilitated the absorption of migrants. It must be noted that the UK was the only industrialized society to which West Indians in this period had such easy access.

Initially emigrants from the Caribbean to the UK were drawn largely from skilled and semi-professional classes in urban areas by the late 1950s, the movement was broaden to include unskilled workers, many from rural areas The removal of highly skilled workers from the already small supplies resulted in many cases in heavy depletion of these labour force categories (brain drain). Therefore, in many West Indian countries, the population of working age hardly increased between 1960-1970. One main result was a curb in levels of unemployment which obviously helped in stablilising the economies of these countries Restrictions against West Indian migration into the UK began in 1962 and as a result halted the flow of migrants.

However, at this point, two other avenues were opened up to West Indians (US and Canada) Canada needed a larger population to build up its economy and defenses and other new admin arrangements Entry to the US became easier for emigrants from independent countries of the West Indies Social Stratification Social stratification is the presence of distinct social groups which are ranked one above the other in terms of factors such as wealth, prestige, power, race, etc. Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals or groups between different socio-economic positions. This movement can be either horizontal or vertical Ways in Which mobility is Measured 1. Intergenerational mobility – social mobility between generations is measured by comparing the occupational status of children with that of their parents, e. g. f a son of an unskilled manual worker becomes an accountant, he is social mobile in terms of inter-generational social mobility 2. Intragenerational mobility – social mobility within a single generation. It is measured by comparing the occupation of an individual at two or more points in time Race – a concept used to distinguish one individual from another based on visible traits such as one’s skin colour, hair texture and phenotype. Race therefore is regarded as the scientific or biological construct. However it can be argued to a certain extent that race is also used as a social construct Ethnicity – refers to a sense of belonging to a particular group based on cultural traditions, ancestry, nationality, history, language or religion

Sex – refers to the difference of individuals based on physical and anatomical traits. The female sex is called such because of the female genitalia and the male sex because of the male reproductive organ Gender – unlike sex, gender is a social construct in that certain occupations are seen as feminine or masculine. In other words if the proper term for sex is male/female then gender would be masculine/feminine. Masculinity and femininity are socially constructed Caste – usually found in closed societies, i. e. societies where one’s status is ascribed. A caste society is very rigid and as a result there is no social mobility as one;s status is inherited, e. g. he caste system in India Class – classes are found in open societies where one’s status is achieved and as a result, there is opportunity for social mobility. Classes depend mainly on economic differences between groupings of individuals such as inequality in possession and control of natural resources. Social Stratification on the Plantation According to Knight (2000), the slave society had three legally defined castes that were supported partly by force, by custom and by law. These three castes were black, coloured and whites Social Stratification in Trinidad and Tobago Braithwaite observed that Trinidad and Tobago exhibited many of the features of what he called “the plural society”.

He noticed that there is a relationship between ethnicity and class in the society and that instead of a homogenous cosmopolitan forming among and between the various ethnic groups there developed a certain separation among and between the various ethnic groups and a ranking of them in terms of superiority and inferiority In other words Braithwaite saw that the social structure was clearly founded on an ascriptive basis It was based on one hand on the positive evaluation of the white group and on the other hand the negative evaluation of the black group Ethnic affiliation and ethnic purity were the values upon which the social stratification system was erected Selwyn Ryan (1981) According to Ryan the stratification system which Braithwaite described had largely disappeared although its shadow still lingers in the social and economic life of the community By 1962, the bureaucratic power once enjoyed by the whites had been completely broken the whites had been replaced by a new group of university trained technocrats whom Dr.

Williams recruited to keep positions in his administration and judiciary . The triumph of the PNM also brought the political power of the upper class. However, whites, creoles and the catholic church continued to influence decision making at all levels With regards to education, the educational revolution was not thorough and by the terms of the Concordat, significant concessions were made to the denominational boards in general and in the catholic board The concessions were used to sustain the system of privileged access for the children of the former ruling class By the 1980s no longer was one’s race or colour sufficient to get certain types of jobs or resources.

According to Ryan what now exists in Trinidad and Tobago is a “Rapidly expanding meritocracy and not the static caste system which Braithwaite defined in 1953 The old male white dominated social order has largely passed away and has been replaced with a new order where academic achievement is an important resource which promotes social mobility and not the values ascribed to the aristocracy as in the case of Braithwaite’s paradigm. Definitions for Caribbean Society and Culture Plural Society – according to M. G. Smith, Caribbean societies are plural societies. He believed that several groups exist as independent sub-cultures and implied that each group kept within their own boundaries. He states that groups only interact with each other out of necessity i. e. for economic purposes. Furthermore each group does not try to change the beliefs of other groups.

Therefore the plural society focuses on non-interference, peaceful coexistence and tolerance Creole Society – in Creole Society, Edward Braithwaite focused on early integration between Europeans and Africans therefore giving rise to Creole society its main focus is change and how different cultures are blended to form a new Creole culture. Acculturation therefore forms part of Creole Society. Plantation Society – according to Lloyd Best and George Beckford, Caribbean societies, plantation economies, exist to serve the needs of foreign powers. Before independence, the European powers (metropole) controlled production and resources in order to produce commodities for export. Even after independence, from the metropolitan powers, they continued to be dependent or tied to these societies. Lloyd Best defines plantation societies as societies where everything that is produced is exported and everything that is consumed is imported Drought – Impact on the Caribbean

Countries have been implementing various measures to control water use, including forbidding people to water lawns or wash vehicles In Trinidad, a contractor was fired after he watered the lawn at the Prime Minister’s residence A riot at a prison in Kingston, Jamaica this month was said to have been caused partly by anger over a water shortage at the facility Drought Effects As soil moisture decreases, vegetation wilts and eventually dies. Also prevents or delays germination of crops. Bare grounds as a result of the death of the vegetation, land is left bare, may lead to soil erosion Hurricanes Hurricanes are large tropical storms with heavy winds. By definition, they contain winds in excess of 74 miles per hour (119km/hr) and large areas of rainfall. In addition they have the potential to spawn dangerous tornadoes.

It is a 20-65 km (12-40 mile) wide region of relatively clear and calm conditions brought about by descending air Eye wall – immediately outside of the eye is the eye wall region, an area vigorous tall/deep clouds, heavy rainfall, and the strongest observed winds Spiral bands – localized areas of tall/deep clouds, heavy rain, and high winds, known as spiral bands, may extend a few hundred km outward from the centre of a hurricane Winds: Low in High Out – At the surface, the air spirals inward in a counter clockwise (cyclonic) circulation. T

Politics Racial add mixture Architecture Economic activity Positive effects of cultural diversity It increases the wealth of experiences and knowledge It enriches the culture It increases a society’s ability to cope and adapt to differences Attractiveness to tourism (Carnival) Negative Effects of cultural diversity It creates problems with unity and consensus It creates potential intensities (disputes between racial and ethnic groups It creates potential for charges of discrimination It makes the society fragile Hybridization The fusion of cultures or races so that purity is no longer preserved but something new is created * Some associated terms

Creolization – elements of the dominant culture taken into the subordinate culture transformed and then employed Transculturation – where two cultures meet, mix and new elements emerge Acculturation – one culture is absorbed by another Syncretism – the combining of several different cultural forms especially in religion so that something new is created Caribbean Diaspora – the substantial numbers of Caribbean people residing in foreign lands and retaining a large part of Caribbean cultural forms Cultural Erasure Fazing out or discontinuance of traditional practice considered redundant or not conforming to modern lifestyles. Essentially it is the displacement of the traditional with the modern, e. g. wooden homes, street games, God parents, burial rights, respect for adults, communities bringing up children Cultural Retention

Persistence of past cultural practices into present day way of life Results when governments: a. proclaim national holidays/festivals each year, b. support distinctive cultural groups financial aid, Examples - Tobago heritage, African and East Indian legacies Cultural Renewal The reviving of previously discontinued practices by fashioning them to new practices as an attempt to salvage what was of value from the past, e. g. a. renewed interest in folk medicine, renewed interest in African folk culture, c. emancipation dy celebrations, d. crop-over Manifest and Latent Functions Manifest functions – the open or stated goal of a social act or situation, e. g. manifest function of streaming ability levels in schools is an organizational one where teaching and learning is thought to be facilitated by having homogenous groups Latent functions – the hidden unintended or unexpected consequences of a social act or situations, e. g. a latent function of this practice is that student in lower ability streams become labeled as “not bright” and feel loss of self-esteem Outline the ways in which the changes in the education system have impacted Caribbean people over time Advantages and disadvantages.

How was it beneficial to the study. Presentation of findings at least – tables, graphs, paragraphs. Interpretation of findings. Discussion link it to the lit review. Conclusion – explicitly say if you have proven what you have set out to prove. Limitations of Research. Recommendations – for further research, or if you could enhance further research.


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Caribbean Studies. (2017, Dec 09). Retrieved from

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