Caribbean Transformations

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Contact and clash, amalgamation and accommodation, resistance and change have marked the history of the Caribbean islands. It is a unique region where people under the stress of slavery had to improvise, invent and literally create forms of human association through which their pasts and the symbolic interpretation of their present could be structured.

Caribbean Transformations is divided into three major parts, each preceded by a brief introductory chapter. Part One begins with a look at the African antecedents of the Caribbean, then discusses slavery and the plantation system. Two chapters deal with slavery and forced labor in Puerto Rico and the history of a Puerto Rican plantation. Part Two is concerned with the rise of a Caribbean peasantry—the erstwhile slaves who separated themselves from the plantation system on small plots of land. This creative adaptation led to the growth of a class of rural landowners producing a large part of their own subsistence but also selling to and buying from wider markets. Mintz first discusses the origins of reconstructed peasantries, and then proceeds to the specifics of the origins and history of the peasantry in Jamaica. Part Three turns to Caribbean nationhood—the political and economic forces that affected its shaping and the social structure of its component societies. A separate chapter details the case of Haiti. The book ends with a critique of the implications of Caribbean nationhood from an anthropological perspective, stressing the ways that class, color and other social dimensions continue to play important parts in the organization of Caribbean societies.

Caribbean Transformations—lucidly written and presenting broad coverage of both time and space—is essential reading for anthropologists, sociologists, historians and all others interested in the Caribbean, in black studies, in colonial problems, in the relationships between colonial areas and the imperial powers, and in culture change generally.

The collection of Mintz's most important essays, revised and rewritten to form an integrated work, considers the Afro-American background of the Caribbean.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The paperback republication of these essays, first brought out in book form in 1974, is most welcome…. [T]his well-selected collection achieves a remarkable organization and unity…. A stimulating and important book.” —Erika Bourguignon, Man “The author provides stimulating introductions to each of the main sections of the book and succeeds in welding the studies into a meaningful whole.” —Bruce Young, Geographical Review “This is both a collection of many of Sidney Mintz’s most important articles on Caribbean societies…. Always writing with care and elegance, and basing his arguments always on an unparalleled range of fieldwork in the area (Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica) and superb social and cultural reconstructions, this may be Mintz’s most important book to date.” —Roger D. Abrahams, American Anthropologist “The book is rich in information, ideas, suggestions and speculations. It deals judiciously with the complexities of the area, resisting the temptation to simplify, to provide neat solutions or pat or dogmatic answers to complex issues.” —Erika Bourguignon, The Hispanic American Historical Review “Sidney W. Mintz is one of the very few North American social scientists who have dedicated long careers exclusively to the Caribbean area, and he is probably the most gifted among them…. Mintz’s work, in my opinion, belongs to the special class of excellent, mature, and finely balanced scholarship.” —H. Hoetink, American Journal of Sociology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202309576
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Sidney W. Mintz is currently professor emeritus, department of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. He founded the department there in 1975. He has done extensive field research in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Haiti, as well as in Iran. He recently launched a research program in Hong Kong to study the consumption and production of soybean and is now examining soy products in the United States.

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Table of Contents

PrefaceSlavery, Forced Labor and the Plantation SystemAcknowledgmentsCaribbean PeasantriesForeword to the Morningside EditionCaribbean NationhoodAfro-Caribbeana: An IntroductionSlavery and the Afro-American WorldSlavery and Forced Labor in Puerto RicoThe History of a Puerto Rican PlantationThe Origins of Reconstituted PeasantriesThe Historical Sociology of Jamaican VillagesThe Origins of the Jamaican Market SystemThe Contemporary Jamaican Market SystemHouses and Yards among Caribbean PeasantriesThe Case of HaitiCaribbean Nationhood: An Anthropological PerspectiveReferencesIndex

Columbia University Press

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