This long essay, written in 1972 by two anthropologists in an attempt to prevent ideology from diverting the course of African American studies, posits that the Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the New World cannot ``be said to have shared a culture ,'' having been ``drawn from different parts of the . . . continent, from numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, and from different societies in any region.'' On the contrary, the authors conclude that the roots of African American culture lie in the cooperative efforts of the enslaved to create a new society here. Drawing heavily on examples from the Caribbean experience, Mintz and Price believe that so-called African retentions in the cultural realm must be examined in light of social structures and relationships established in the Americas. They examine, for instance, the development of unilineal vs. aggregate family groups in different contexts and the apparent reversion to African gender roles in the economic autonomy of women in Jamaica. This provocative book is bound, even now, to raise the ire of supporters of narrow Afrocentrism, while the general reader may find its arguments too technical. (July)
This book is a long-delayed publication of a speech given at the 1973 Schouler Lecture Symposium. The authors argue that the various African American cultures, while rooted in African values, cannot be attributed to any one tribe or geographical area, because no colonial power took Africans from only one place. Furthermore, geographical area is not meaningful because tribes from the same area had differing cultures. As one would expect, the authors provide footnotes and a bibliography (updated to include items published in 1990) that give a fine background in the anthropology of African culture. The book would have been enhanced by an afterword suggesting avenues of research for this decade or issues raised in 1973 that are still unaddressed. Colleges and universities with anthropology or black history programs will want this book, but it will be of little interest to general readers.-- Anita L. Cole, Miami-Dade P.L. System, Fla.
Sidney W. Mintz is professor emeritus, department of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. He has done extensive field research in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Haiti, as well as in Iran. He launched a research program in Hong Kong to study the consumption and production of soybean and examine soy products in the United States.
Richard Price divides his time between rural Martinique and the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he is Dittman Professor of American Studies, anthropology, and history. His many prize-winning books include First Time and Alabi's World. The most recent, written with Sally Price, is Maroon Arts: Cultural Vitality in the African Diaspora.