The Role of Hierarchy in a Labour Society
In the seventeenth century, European indentured labourers and African slaves in the Caribbean play an extremely important part in the success of these new colonies. The colonies were expensive and difficult to maintain control of as the wars from the home continent of Europe continued into the Americas as colonization became widespread among these European powers. But in Jenny Shaw’s book Everyday Life in the Early English Caribbean, other questions can be drawn. Focusing more on the lives of the labourers working in the colonies, the indentured servants and African slaves and the role they played in a small part of the vast British Empire. That in this period there was an importance of creating distinct identities for the different people in the Caribbean in order to suit specific interests. This is done through analyzing the social hierarchy in the colonies on ethnic and or religious grounds. Since the primary text for an analysis of the creation of identities in the Caribbean is centrally focused on the English colonies in the Caribbean, that will be the main setting for this analysis.
In the early English Caribbean, social hierarchy was distinguished in a way to ensure English interests prevailed. The English were at the top, followed by the Scottish and the Irish, and at the bottom were the African slaves. The English were already proper people and seen as the most important people to have in the colonies. But there was a distinction between the indentured servants and the African slaves. The Scottish and Irish could be improved; they could become productive land-owning people in the colonies while the slaves could just remain as property.
... middle of paper ...
...slaves still practiced other spiritual practices, the appearance was enough to maintain freedom.
By utilizing the social hierarchies, ethnic and religious, in the English Caribbean colonies, it can be determined that the working people of Caribbean utilized these hierarchies to their own self interest. That included challenging the idea that Jenny Shaw introduced, of how the servants and the slaves worked together in harmony. Instead, implying that the relationship was not as symbiotic as presented and that there was more motivation for selfishness in terms of pursuing ones own interests rather than those of the working village community. In the end, the Irish become future land and slave owners, the slaves when given a higher position, would punish the Irish servants. It might not of been as such a happy family as Jenny Shaw makes it out to be.
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