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British Slave Emancipation$
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Green William A.

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202783.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

West Indian Society

West Indian Society

(p.2) (p.3) Chapter 1 West Indian Society
British Slave Emancipation

William A. Green

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses West Indian society, which was characterized by rigid segmentation and division. Built on the principles of inequality and subordination, the West Indies was dominated by the whites: the dominant culture and race that served as a yardstick of social status. As the dominant race, Europeans mostly control and overpowered all aspects of society. And unlike the blacks, the Europeans preserved most of their cultural and social institutions. Africans, on the other hand, were forced into assimilation and creolization, to adopt the dominant culture and allow drastic changes to their original culture to accommodate the demands of the dominant race. While creolization did occur in both the Africans and Europeans, the West Indies was never under a uniform creolization. While changes were apparent in the culture of the slaves due to their bondage, and the free coloured people due to concubinage and their efforts to identify with the whites, the Europeans were not subject to drastic culture changes as they considered the modifications in their living habits as temporary adjustments to an alien climate and a slave economy. Despite the varying degrees of creolization among Africans and Europeans, the several segments of West Indian society did not cohere. This was because the principles of inequality and subordination created division instead of cohesion, not to mention the impermanence, insecurity and exploitation that was prevalent in the colonies.

Keywords:   West Indian society, West Indies, Europeans, Africans, creolization, dominant culture, inequality, subordination

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