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Slavery resistance through culture in Caribbean (Essay Sample)


In what ways did the different types of colonial oppression and exploitation in the Caribbean (encomienda, indentureship, slavery) shape Caribbean society? The paper addresses ways in which African men and women in Caribbean used their culture to resist to slavery. Culture was a major weapon that was used in Caribbean to resist exploitation.


Slavery resistance through culture in Caribbean
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Question 2
How did Caribbean men and women use culture to resist colonial oppression and exploitation?
Many African men and women captured and sold into slavery did not accept the system of enslavement. Men and women enslaved in Caribbean were oppressed and had several ways of resisting. The many forms of slavery resistance included refusing to co-operate, African-led uprising, working at a slow pace, retaining African traditions and their sense of identity. In plantations, men were always in a better position to lead revolts or run away. On the other hand, slave women had domestic duties and could use this role for active resistance. Sexual exploitation and violence of the enslave women was common during this period. It can be argued that women used sexual influence as a way of controlling their enslavers. In this case, men and women in Caribbean used culture to resist enslavement. They retained their traditions and culture in order to enhance everyday survival in the slavery system. Caribbean planters kept track of what they believed were African culture and ethnicity. They had no respect or interest for the culture of people that enslaved them.
Cultural ways of slavery resistance in Caribbean
The traditional explanation anticipated that since enslaved men and women had a great cultural development, their enslavers would lose their modest culture. This belief supposed that the enslaved men and women were sort of unqualified slate when they arrived in Caribbean. They believed that their family patterns, music, religions, and languages were faulty attempts to imitate European colonists. This thinking became inapplicable when movements such as negritude embraced African culture and roots. This marked a shift of considering enslaved Africans as submissive and inactive victims. In this case, the cultures of black Caribbean were evidence of the many ways in which the enslaved men and women shaped their own lives (Petley, 2011).
One of the major ways in which men and women in Caribbean used culture to resist slavery was through retention of traditions. This stresses how slaves in Caribbean reconvened in new locations around their ethnic groups from related African origins. This helped in the dissemination of African culture and religious traditions. A clear indication of cultural transmission in Caribbean is the role of African ethnicities in their rebellion against slavery. In 1770, leaders who were born in Caribbean become more conspicuous. They headed many of the region’s slave rebellion such as Haitian Revolution. One of the major features in the success of the Haitian Revolution is that many veteran warriors led it. The military royalism and tactics of many rebel warriors groups in the Haitian revolution were directly linked to political ideologies and fighting styles of enslaved people (Manuel, Bilby, & Largey, 2006).
In the limited time the enslaved men and women had to themselves, they maintained their aspects of African culture and tradition alive. They used this as a form of resisting slavery. Although slave masters gave enslave Africans new names, they maintained many aspects of their culture such as spirituality, language, and medicines. All these cultural values were seen as threats to the enslavers. On the other hand, drums were a significant part of African life (Petley, 2011). They were mainly used on board ship in order to force captured Africans do some exercises.
In Caribbean, enslaved men and women used drums as part of their religious ceremonies. They also used drums to make music, which were performed during weekly festivals and dances. In addition, they also used drums in communication and signalling revolts. For example during 1804 revolution in Haiti, drumbeats were used as signals. This led to the restriction of drum usage among slaves across Caribbean. The prohibition of drums was facilitated because they incited slaves into rebellion (Carey, 2011). Other cultural objects such as horns and Conch shells were also used as a symbol of slavery resistance in Caribbean. Men and women in Caribbean used these objects to raise the alarm against oppressions.
Another aspect of slave resistance in Caribbean linked to African culture and ethnicity is the creation of maroon communities. Escaped men and women who found their way out of bondage formed these communities. These groups of slaves who managed to escape from their enslavers went to the interior of Caribbean island. In Caribbean, maroons controlled a large part of the mountainous interior. The also used a common language to communicate to each other. In addition, the communities were well organized with their own leaders, processions, and dances (Carey, 2011). In this case, their enslavers found it hard to defeat them.
Enslaved women in Caribbean also played a great role in facilitating oppression through their culture. They had a central role in African religious ceremonies and practices. One of the major ways in which the Caribbean women resisted slavery was through preservation of African culture by using oral traditions when passing knowledge to their children. They used oral traditions to their histories and past traditions alive. They also used African holy practices commonly referred as Obeah. This is the practice of harnessing supernatural spirits and forces for their personal use. These forces were used to resist colonial oppressors (Petley, 2011). In this case, African religion and traditions in Caribbean made significant contributions to slavery resistance.
The men and women enslaved in Caribbean also used their cultural heritage of songs to resist from oppression. They sang songs that were utilized to convey hidden messages since they were composed in African language. The song had important information such as the dates, times, and routes for planned escapes (Carey, 2011). They also had songs conveying meeting messages and various directions to freedom.
Poisoning remains yet another extreme way in which the Caribbean men and women used to resist colonial oppression and exploitation. During this era, domestic roles were mostly reserved for women, who took this advantage to poison their enslavers. It is quite imperative to note that plant knowledge marked an important aspect of resistance in as far as the colonial rule was concerned. An overwhelming statistic inclusion confirms that Europeans had a great fear of being poisoned by the aboriginals (Flores-Rodríguez, 2012). The rampant cases of poisoning led to the outlawing of slave medicine dating 1730 (Beckles, 1998). However, banning of slave medicine did not serve as a great relief for the colonizers. This is inherently because the local men and women were very bitter about their current state of colonization and thus could do anything to attain independence.
Plant poisons found in the land of Caribbean had a powerful effect on the European naturalists. Contact with sap or fruit from the (Hippomane mancinella), locally known as manchineel tree caused intensive itching as well as a burning sensation on a victim. However, enslaved people had the skill of protecting themselves from the itches by using lime juice. Consequently, indigenous people used sap from trees as well as fruit juices to poison arrows, which they used to stun fish. Since most enslavers liked eating fish, they succumbed to the intense poisoning in the meal.
Suicide is probably one of the extreme forms of resistance used by ...
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