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Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition and Play in the Caribbean / Edition 1

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Overview

This wide-ranging book explores the origins, development, and character of Afro-Caribbean cultures from the slave period to the present day. Richard D. E. Burton focuses on ways in which African traditions—including those in religion, music, food, dress, and family structure—were transformed by interaction with European and indigenous forces to create the particular cultures of Jamaica, Trinidad, and Haiti. He demonstrates how the resulting Afro-Creole cultures have both challenged and reinforced the social, political, and economic status quo in these countries.Jamaican slaves opposed slavery in many ways and one of the most important, Burton suggests, was the development of Afro-Christianity. He pays particular attention to the African-derived Christmas celebration of Jonkonnu as an expression of opposition and then documents religion in the post-slavery period, with an emphasis on Rastafarianism in Jamaica and Vodou in Haiti. The element of play has always figured importantly in Afro-Caribbean life. Burton examines the evolution of carnival and calypso in Trinidad and describes the significance of cricket in defining Caribbean national identity. Based on ten years of research, Afro-Creole draws on historical, anthropological, sociological, and literary sources. Burton characterizes the emergence of Caribbean identity with three different national flavors and demonstrates how culture both reflects and impacts people's changing sense of their own political power.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Burton's work is perhaps the best researched, most thoughtful, intellectually provocative study of the complex relationship between history, religion, poetics, culture, and social change especially, but not exclusively, in the English-speaking Caribbean. It is powerfully written, humorous, and meticulously examines the psychology and paradoxically religious anthropology of Jamaican and Trinidadian politics. . . . The essence of the argument is that popular protests, regardless of the practical forms like cricket, dance, or carnival in Trinidad and revivalist religions like Myal and Rastafari in Jamaica, simultaneously challenge and reinforce the status quo and are accepted substitutes for overt power confrontations. . . . Burton's conclusion suggests that the order and conservatism of most Caribbean societies may be explained by the important role of cultural activities as a historical medium for diffusing and controlling the masses."—Choice

"I recommend this book for its attention to historical detail and its breadth on the subject of the Caribbean."—John W. Nunley, American Anthropologist

"A bold and cogent study."—Sada Niang, University of Victoria, African Studies Review

"A fine and comprehensive history. . . It is perhaps the most useful survey yet on the formation of distinctively Afro-Creole forms of public expression in the Anglophonic West Indies."—New West Indian Guide

"This is a stimulating, wide-ranging and theoretically well-informed anthropological and historical exploration of Afro-Caribbean popular culture."—British Bulletim of Publications, No. 102. April 2000.

"Afro-Creole admirably captures the essence of what it means to be Caribbean. By daring to 'run against orthodox thinking' on the matter of the culture of resistance, the author has provided a provocative and thoroughly enjoyable reexamination of the entire question of African survival in the Caribbean. He will not end debate on the matter, but he has certainly greatly enriched it."—Keith Q. Warner, Research in African Literatures, Vol, 32, No. 4 (2001)

"Burton's book is bold and almost unique in its pan-Caribbean scope. He has an admirable skill at relating eclectic and seemingly disparate materials and topics, and he writes clearly on complex matters. This book has much to offer specialists as well as those who have a general interest in sociological subjects and the Caribbean."—Michael Craton, author of Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801483257
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Acknowledgments
A Note on Terminology
Introduction 1
1 From African to Afro-Creole: The Making of Jamaican Slave Culture, 1655-1838 13
2 Resistance and Opposition in Jamaica, 1800-1834 47
3 In the Shadow of the Whip: Religion and Opposition in Jamaica, 1834-1992 90
4 The Carnival Complex 156
5 Masquerade, Possession, and Power in the Caribbean 221
Conclusion 263
Glossary 269
References 271
Index 291
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2000

    Fizzer

    I thought this book started quite well, giving background to the topics intended to be discussed. By chapter 3 I had had enough - it seemed to be nothing but a put-down of Jamaican culture by quoting other writers' books and articles - the author didn't seem to have any ideas of his own but consistently went on about the 'parasitic' nature of things with page after page citing other works. The book also constantly refers to words defined by Michel de Certeau - which then made me think of a Jamaican poem line 'why are we still measuring success as defined by the West?' All in all a disappointing book, the author admits this topic is not his forte, and the book proves it.

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