Anthropology 162: Non-Western Worlds: Caribbean "Others"
Film Notes: Iron in the Soul (1992) Narrator: Stuart Hall
I. Setting: Jamaica
Slavery existed everywhere in the Caribbean and the British were a primary force in its development.
By mid-17thC ratio of slaves to Whites was 9 to 1 in Jamaica.
At same time there were 660 sugar estates on the island.
Excerpts from the diary of a plantation owner-- Thomas Thistlewood (1750).
"Negro Sale" -- slave auction.
Sexual exploitation of female slaves by White owners, overseers, managers.
Dehumanizing treatment -- possibly more brutal by British as a consequence of their refusal to baptize slaves, which would have required treating them as equals.
Legacies of British Colonization:
Resistance to slavery -- ultimately took the form of rebellions.
Children of slave wives -- raised and educated same as his children by European wife -- eventually led to the creation of a Creole, colored class (mulatto, etc.).
Slave mortality high -- took 3 slaves maintain one position -- high mortality.
"Creole" referred to as the unofficial legacy of the British in the Caribbean.
II. Setting shifts to Barbados (thought of selves as "Little England" because of British identity).
Upper classes of Barbados reminiscent of transplanted British upper class society and culture.
Visits St. Nicholas Abbey -- owned by Stephen Tate (?), grandson of original owner.
Simple White/Black racial dichotomy does not tell the whole story of color in the Caribbean --
-- Illustrated by visit to "Redleg" community -- descendents of Scottish and British indentured laborers brought to Barbados over 300 years ago.
-- "White Bajans" of all classes. Richard Goddard -- now rich, middle class. But thinks of self as Barbadian, not British. Typical of class of Barbadian businessmen.
-- Antagonism between poor Whites and Blacks persists.
-- Contrasted with scenes from Barbados Yacht Club (formerly White-only Royal Yacht Club).
Even though allowed, few Blacks join.
Contrast Church of England (Anglican) with Spiritual Baptist Church -- Christiantiy transformed by African influences.
Spiritual Baptist Church founded by Glanville Williams -- represents only one of many Afro-Christian syncretic religions found in the region.
-- Revival/Prophetic basis.
-- "dream beyond poverty of daily life" is part of the attraction.
-- religion as a flag of cultural resistance -- gives meaning and status to lives of poor.
III. Education as escape route from poverty.
Jamaica -- Harrison College -- very British education, typical of educational opportunities for affluent.
IV. Issues of cultural legacy.
Rex Nettelford -- Jamaican scholar.
-- have inherited many traits and characteristics of the British system.
-- law and order
-- sense of fair play
-- British idea of democracy
-- problem of "mimicry" or things associated with White/European culture and society.
-- idolization and idealization of things White.
-- symbolized by "The Club" and West Indian adoption of Cricket -- almost a secular religion.
-- Wes Hall (former cricket star, now Senator) represents sports as escape from poverty.
Currently more oriented to Mid-Atlantic culture than to European.
-- Middle class prefer Miami styles to Paris.
-- Judge success by American standards.
-- Increasing orientation toward North America.
V. Independence is an elusive goal.
-- England in Barbados is "a country of the mind."
-- "Slave mentality" requires emancipation of the mind.
-- Rex Nettelford -- people of the Caribbean are "creatures of colonialism forged in the crucible of colonialization."
-- If anything, Caribbean people are survivors.