In the Caribbean Diaspora, following the Emancipation from slavery (which took place at different historical moments, depending on the European nation controlling a particular colony) there were attempts to reconfigure the socio-economic, political and cultural landscape of domination that had existed during the era of slavery. This paper will discuss the problematic nature of post-Emancipation freedom, or search for freedom in the decades after Emancipation. It will temper limited freedom with the realization of the continuation by different means (such as indenture labor) of race-based oppression and the continuation of highly stratified societies organized along class, color and ethnic divisions. Slavery ended first in the British West Indies in 1834. As Brereton writes, The grossly unequal distribution of economic resources, of wealth and poverty, was not fundamentally altered in the century that followed emancipation.
[...] Brereton describes how “African beliefs in the spirit world, the idea of a person having several souls or spirits with different function, concepts of death and the afterlife, and many other African religious rites and practices continued to shape the way West Indians looked at the world.” (Brereton: 104) Revivalist sects or Rastafari in Jamaica are two examples of rural originating religious systems that combine Christian with anti-colonial political sentiment, moving from the rural to the urban setting. This hybridization of the cultures, especially among the classes below the elite upper classes, helps to create the rich resistance to white and colonial-imperial domination up to the current time of post-Independence in many Caribbean nations. [...]
[...] From islands where mono crops of sugar luxury goods sent off to the metropolitan centers dominated the Caribbean economy emerged diversified product of “arrowroot, cotton, spices, cocoa, citrus, bananas, logwood and sugar (Marshall: 101) Depending on the island and what grew there, more crops can be added to this list. Factors which impeded a continuation of this growth into the 20th century are cited by Marshall as a number of intersecting problems the power of the increasingly expanding sugar plantations, and the non-agricultural expansions of industry, such as oil and bauxite by elites and multinational corporations into the late 20th century. [...]
[...] (Marshall: 100) Among the attempts to keep ex-slaves on the plantation lands, working as laborers was system of tenancy which compelled the ex-slave to labor ‘steadily and continuously' on the estates in return for secure residence in the house and ground which he had occupied as a slave.” (Marshall: 100) The terms of these tenancy agreements were not very appealing to the ex- slave laborers, and they were very determined to resist being trapped in high rents, low wages, and long term contracts. (Marshall: 100) As Marshall writes depending on the size of the island and the extent of the sugar industry's extant land holdings, ex-slaves either sought out their own property to buy in the island where they had been slaves or immigrated to other islands where emancipation had also been declared. At the time this would have been only the English speaking Caribbean. [...]
[...] (Brereton: 86) She writes of the concern in the metropolitan (London, Paris) for the working out of great experiment”: the attempt to transform masses of African and creole slaves into law- abiding, thrifty, hardworking, Christianized wage laborers.” (Brereton: 86) If Marshall sees a great deal of parallel cultural development, Brereton in contrast believes that this process of inculcating British or French value systems, including education, religion, cultural values, class systems, internalized self-hatred, were in many ways very successful, up to the point of the independence of much of the Caribbean in the mid to late 20th century. [...]
[...] (Campbell: 117) However, this was countered by the increasing appearance of Hindu and Muslim organizations and activists from India or indigenous to the Caribbean, who foisted rebellion against the Christian mission programs and educational imperatives by the 1920s (Campbell: 121) There was petitions from the emerging Hindu Associations and Muslim groups in the Caribbean for separate schools; thus resistance to Christianity took the form of religious doctrine in opposition to assimilation; something which is less apparent among the African Caribbean populations, either in French or English colonies. [...]
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