Colonialism in the Caribbean

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Colonialism in the Caribbean

Although Michelle Cliff, Antonio Benitez- Rojo, and Sidney Mintz all discuss the Caribbean in their writings they all have very distinct perspectives. In his writing, The Caribbean as a Socio-cultural Area, Sidney Mintz discusses the Caribbean from a historical standpoint in which he characterizes it as a socially united, rather than a culturally united one. Antonio Benitez- Rojo tries to explain the distinct cultures of the Caribbean with a combination of historical and personal knowledge , in his writing of The Repeating Island. While in her novel Abeng, Michelle Cliff uses an entirely different means of discussing the Caribbean because she does it through the eyes of a child. Despite having different outlooks in explaining the Caribbean they all record the theme of colonialism and their effects on people and society.

Mintz's Perspective

The Caribbean as a Socio-Cultural Area addresses the current cultural Caribbean with an eye on the past. For example, when discussing the emergence of creole culture Mintz specifically points out that this was almost exclusive to the islands colonized by the Spanish. According to Mintz, the Hispanic Caribbean was "settled by Europeans who had come to stay and to become "creoles"; nowhere and at no time in the Hispanic islands did African slaves ever outnumber freeman of European origin" (Mintz 28). Therefore, contemporary Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Cuba are all very culturally diverse places who all have distinctive combinations of African, Native American, and European influences. For historical reasons, different regions of these islands have developed their own local cultures and social atmospheres by virtue of the types of people who lived ther...

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... to her colonizers land reveals Jamaica’s present dependence England and the United States which is an effect of colonialism.

It is the combination of readings from Mintz, Rojo, and Cliff which have explained what colonialism did in forming of the contemporary Caribbean. Also, not all of these islands are the same culturally because of the variety of colonial power imposed. Ultimately, it is impossible to look beyond this influence today because the structures of these islands are in fact the remains of colonialism.


Benitez-Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island, as seen in Post-contemporary Interventions, Duke University, Durham and London, 1992

Cliff, Michelle. Abeng. Published by the Penguin Group, 1984.

Mintz, Sidney W. The Caribbean as a Socio-Cultural Area, as seen in Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean, Garden City, New Jersey, 1971.

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