The Caribbean Essay

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The Caribbean The inhabited islands clustered in the Caribbean Sea are an interesting study in cultural and social identity. Colonized by european powers from the Fifteenth Century, the Caribbean islands have become mixtures of cultures from Europe, Africa, and India, as well as from the original inhabitants of the islands. As a result, describing and defining the Caribbean is a much more difficult task than it appears on the surface. The norms and ideas of identity and history that exist on one island are vastly different than those that exist on a near neighbor, despite similarities in geography and history. To better understand the differences and similarities between Caribbean islands and the people who inhabit them, a look at the…show more content…
In his article, Sidney Mintz quotes M.G. Smith in saying the, “differences of habitat, economy, population composition, political history, and status are the most useful general guides in a preliminary subdivision of the wider area.”(Mintz p.19) Mintz actually wants to take this severe classification even further to emphasize on the “societies of the islands themselves.” Mintz explains that the societies of the islands are very similar in structure. He refers to the nine features of “Caribbean regional commonality.” This list, while somewhat condensed here, is essential to Mintz’s argument: 1) lowland, subtropical, insular ecology; 2) the swift extirpation of native populations; 3) the early definition of the island and a sphere of European overseas agricultural capitalism. 4) the development of different social classes based primarily on physical differences. 5) the continuous interplay of plantations and small-scale yeomen agriculture; 6) the introduction of massive amounts of “foreign” populations as a lowest class; 7) the absence of national identity that could serve as a goal for mass acculturation; 8) the persistence of colonialism and the colonial ambiance; 9) a high degree of individualization--particularly economic individualization--as an aspect of Caribbean social organization. This list of the features of Caribbean societies that Mintz finds to be “common” is only that--a

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