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CRB502 Midterm Review.docx

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SOC 503
Terry Roswell

CRB502 – Cultural Traditions in the Caribbean Midterm Review Deciphering the Caribbean United or Fragmented Society? The history of the region is one of fragmentation and separation, and throughout that history “the division within each territory has been compounded by the division across territories” - “There is no such thing as a West Indian Flag, A West Indian Anthem, a West Indian capital city or even a West Indian government” Mainland countries: Guyana & Belize What is the Caribbean? - Caribbean can be defined as a “meeting point”. - Known as Antilles, then West Indies, then Caribbean - A geographical location – the British once called the region the “Caribby Islands” - A group of people - A body of water - English began identifying body of water as Caribbean Sea since the 17 century - A geopolitical region - Implications of terms like “West Indies” or “Carib-bean” - Often defined as “outsiders” – misplaced region 1904 – Monroe Doctrine - Allows USA to exercise international police power in the Caribbean The Insular or Ethno-Historic Caribbean – Course Conceptualization - Synonymous with Antilles/West Indies includes Guyana & Belize, as well as Bahamas and Bermuda - Most often used definition - Places emphasis on common experience of plantation driven economies Indigenous People of Caribbean - Various indigenous people before Columbus - Impact of contact with Europeans - Knowledge passed to Europeans/Africans - Indigenous legacies - Arawaks/Taino, Caribs/Calinago Colonialism - Practice of intrusion, settlement, domination and/or exploitation by one people over another people/nation - Generally refers to actions of Euro-American occupation of peoples/territories around the world - Features: completely Eurocentric system; imposes unequal relations between colonizer/colonized; Euro-culture dominant = indigenous culture destroyed - Began in Caribbean in 1492…still continues today From Conquistadors to Settlers - Colonies of exploitation and settlement - Importance of colonies - European indentureship - Colonial challenges in new world Arrival of Africans - Why Africans? - Emergence of plantation societies - How different than indentureship - Oppression and retention - Distinctions within groups – ethnicity, class, status, free vs. enslaved Indentureship after 1834 - New arrivals - How/why exploitative system differs from past - Differences within/between groups (e.g. Chinese, East Indian) - Hybridity or cultural retention Defining Culture - Consists of socially transmitted ideas, practices and material objects that enable people to adopt to and thrive in their environments Two Types of Culture: - High Culture- consumed mainly by upper class - Popular/Mass Culture – consumed by all social classes Main Themes of the Course Theme 1: Culture as a Resistance - Maintaining ancestral connections or developing unique cultural characteristics historically used by oppressed to resist cultural domination - Can be expressed overtly or subtly - Parades/festivals to mimic or ridicule - Drums used by Africans to communicate and linked to revolts during enslavement Theme 2: Cultural Synthesis or Creolization - Hybrid: new form, genetic form - term also refers to history of rape in Caribbean (forced hybridity) - “The production of mass culture that tends to forge the unique identity of the region” - “The bleeding of diverse cultural elements into new forms – often referred to as creolization or syncretism” - “Creolization is not merely a process…but a discontinuous series of reoccurances, of happenings, whose sole law is change” - Voodoo, Hinduism and Islam are examples of non-creolized religions Creole can mean: - A person - Plants and animals - Culture - Locality (insider vs. outsider) - Status - Type of license - Sense of nationalism Theme 3: Cultural Appropriation - Loosely defined as “adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture. Ex. Rastafarianism - Assimilation vs. Creolization? Creole Languages Language…”is a system of symbols strung together to communicate thought” - Allows culture to develop by equipping individuals to do the following: - share understandings - pass experiences and knowledge from one generation to another - makes plans for the future - Is a cultural invention and is what distinguishes humans from animals Language and Sapir-Whorf Thesis - We experience certain things in our environment and from concepts about those things - We develop language to express concepts - Speech patterns regarded as ‘interpretations of experience” - Language itself influences how we see the world - Controversial element of argument because it is difficult to demonstrate the degree to which it influences people Oral Traditions - Both indigenous and African peoples came from oral traditions - Many poor European indentured workers were illiterate - Later groups (Indian/Chinese) also illiterate except for elite groups/classes Cultural Transmission - Songs, stories, folk tales, genealogies, riddles, spiritual wisdom, jokes - Wisdom passed on from elders to children through stories - Here we can see highly skilled use in language to disguise, metaphor, double entendre - Clearly evident today in literature - Anancy stories – trickster figure - small and powerless but uses his wits to outsmart strong and powerful - Odu – Yoruban system of divination - 256 variations, each with a story connected – oral basis of wisdom - used a guide for moral conduct and advice for a variety of situations - Ramayan (Hinduism) - epic poem of war between good and bad Emergence of Creole Languages - Academia – term creole – linguistics - context of slavery/plantation/colonialism - Creole languages emerge from mixture of European languages with
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