Pluralism, creolization and culture

  • Franklin W. Knight


THE slave trade and the sugar revolutions produced profound transformations in the societies, economies and cultures of the Caribbean. The indigenous local societies and polities were rapidly overwhelmed by strange immigrants, at first from Europe and Africa, with later supplements from Asia. The indigenous economies of virtually self-sufficient exchange gave way to a complex, integrated, export-oriented trading system linking the region with the entire circum-Atlantic littoral as well as across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. And the local cultures were savagely destroyed or radically transformed. The relentless intrusion of diverse foreigners into the Caribbean region resulted in fundamental changes both among the indigenous inhabitants as well as among the arriving immigrants. Both groups not only had to make pragmatic adjustments to the other, but they also had to make adjustments to the altered habitat. Within a century after conquest the development of the Caribbean slave systems with their concomitant plantation structures resulted in plural societies and economies as well as a novel, dynamic, hybrid culture of indigenous American, African, European and Asian elements.


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  • Franklin W. Knight

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