The Conventional Narrative Accounting For The Demographic Diversity Of The Caribbean

1567 Words Apr 2nd, 2016 7 Pages
The conventional narrative accounting for the demographic diversity of the Caribbean asserts that after the ‘discovery’ of the islands by Columbus, disease and maltreatment by Spaniards decimated the Indigenous populations. The assumed extinction of these Indigenous populations necessitated the securing of a new supply of manual labour capable of surviving in the tropics and working the newly established plantations and mines. This supply started with European migrants at first, but soon turned to West African slaves being imported into the colonies, and later from indentured servants imported from China and India. This narrative distorts a far more complex demographic evolution, and tends to overstate the power and agency of colonizing peoples from Europe, while framing the various ‘subordinate’ non-European peoples as either non-existent, or utterly lacking in agency of their own. This conventional narrative illustrates that the Caribbean exists in the North American public mindset as a vacation paradise populated by the descendants of the African slave trade and wealthy elites from around the world. And while this caricature is not wholly inaccurate, it does not come close to appreciating the existing cultural diversity found throughout the Caribbean, nor does it recognize the degree of cultural and demographic continuity from the pre-Columbian era. This paper will consider the various factors leading to the ethnic diversity evident throughout the region. In so doing,…
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