Three Ancient Colonies Summary

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The story of the Caribbean and the colonial period has been explored by many authors, who have focused their studies in evaluating the impact of colonialism in the lives and societies impacted during the eighteen and nineteen centuries. In Three Ancient Colonies, the anthropologist Sidney Mintz examines the differences and commonalities of Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico, to explore their development as colonies and look deeper into the development of economic systems and the influence these had in the creation and establishment of certain types of social structures. By looking at places conquered by three different countries, Mintz evaluates the factors that influenced in the creation of these societies as the types of migration, the settlement…show more content…
He does so by using testimonies that narrate the current living situation of the working class in these countries to make evident their position of disadvantage and the inequalities that affect them. When talking about these countries together, Mintz highlights the importance of the creation of new cultures and value systems that generated new forms of living and different types of societies; and the relevance of the possession of land as a mean for economic survival and autonomy during the slavery and emancipation period. He also dedicates a chapter to each country to discuss their particularities and the consequences that colonialism had in each of them. In the case of Jamaica, the author emphasizes primarily the ways in which the social structures developed because of the plantation system, by focusing on the apprenticeship system and the ability to create new relations between the planters and the slaves. Albeit the author highlights the existence of conditions that gave relative autonomy to the slaves, he argues that these advancements did not guarantee better living conditions for them or granted them with basic human rights…show more content…
Another factor that made peculiar the situation of Haiti was the large amount of nonwhite free people that existed before the revolution, and the unusual situation in which these people were, not being included in the social structure. The case of Puerto Rico is very particular, and the author makes this evident when he states that this country maintains its status as a colony, due to the state of ambiguity in which the nation stands currently. In addition to this, Mintz encounter many divergences with the other places studied, and argues that, in this case, the nature of the colonizer is determinant in the formation of social relations in the country, by providing information about the type of migration that occurred in Puerto Rico. When talking specifically about this case, the author emphasizes the family construction and the interracial relations at the center of the social order. In order to do so, Mintz explores the kind of ties that the planters and the slaves had and the consequences that this had for the slaves and the free people of color, who eventually had a weaker development of their own forms of culture

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