The Identity and History of the Caribbean

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The Identity and History of the Caribbean

The Caribbean is a vastly diverse area representing the effects of colonialism, slavery, and the combination of many cultures.

Since the arrival of Europeans the Caribbean islands have been going through constant change. The loss of native peoples and the introduction of the plantation system had immediate and permanent reprocussions on the islands. The Plantation system set up a society which consisted of a large, captive lower class and a powerful, wealthy upper class. As the plantation systems became successful labor was needed in order to progress. Slavery became the answer to the problem. Slavery played an important role in the how the economy changed the islands because there was a shift on the main economic ingredient, Sugar.

Section 2 of Caribbean Slave Society and Economy shows how the economy shifted during this expansion. Before sugar became the main export in 1643, tobacco, sugar, indigo and ginger were the main exports in the English and French Antilles. Tobacco and cotton became important in "pre-sugar era because it was easy to cultivate and did not need as much labor as the sugar plantations. Robert Carlylebatie in the essay "Why sugar? Economic Cycles and the Changing of Staples on the English and French Antilles, 1624-54" writes, "the mastery of the art of making sugar required time, skill and money. It is no wonder, then, that colonists waited until tobacco values reached very near their long-run levels before seriously committing themselves to learning how to produce muscovado, the common brown sugar later exported from the islands" (44). As sugar became difficult to cultivate with little labor more labor were needed. The sugar production lead to the core o...

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...ings that Slavery created a transformation in the Caribbean’s identity and history. New societies, culture, identities, divisions between race and more were created. A social and political hierarchy was created which gave power to the whites while the blacks received no respect. Due to the emergence of the marroonage, revolts shows the slaves are becoming stronger as one and are revolting against their masters. New cultures are emerging and struggles for identity and rights are beginning to form.


Beckles, Dr. Hillary, Verene Shepherd. Caribbean Slave Society and Economy. The New Press, New York. New York, N.Y. 1991.

Benitez-Rojo, Antonio: "The Repeating Island" Duke University Press

Cliff, Michelle: "Abeng" Plume Books

Knight, Franklin W. The Caribbean, The Genesis Of a Fragmented Nationalism. Oxford University Press, New York, N.Y. 1990
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