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Custom Issues in the West Indian Discourse Essay

In Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams claims that the system of slavery was not developed on the bases of racism. What evidence does he provide to support this claim? Do any of the other texts we have read this semester corroborate Williams’ claim?

Trouillot and Williams argue that the origin and rise of the Caribbean slavery lay with economic and not racial motives although they were biased on the notion of humanity on the African race. Williams stated that during the industrial revolution, which was associated with the improvement of the British economy, high profits in the triangle trade were realized. Williams argued that from the period of the American War of Independence, the privileged positions and traditional roles of the British West Indies, in the supply of commodities such as sugar were increasingly being questioned back in Britain. The Dutch settlers in Brazil who preferred sugar farming were involved in the triangle trade at the same time. Since there was sugar boom in the British West Indies islands, a big problem in lack of labor arose. Williams based his argument in that the profits, gained by Britain from the slave trade, were important in British Industrial Revolution. This fact marked the major trading point for Britain which needed slaves to work in the West Indies sugar plantations. Negroes brought by British merchants were forced to work as slaves.

As capitalism developed, there was less need for slave labor, thereby a call for the abolition of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century by industrial capitalist representatives in Britain. In the United States, the civil war abolished slavery but promoted racism as a way to justify colonial slavery. Racism remained one of many modes the ruling class separated the whites from the colored justifying them as second class wage laborers and sharecroppers.

Use Dr. Maximilian Forte’s essay “The Historical Trope of Anti-Indigenity in the Caribbean,” to discuss the contemporary problems descendants of the indigenous peoples of the “West Indies” might face due to the myth of extinction.

Indigenous people of the Caribbean are facing extinction as contemporary people are announcing themselves as Amerindians, Caribs, and Tainos while it is historically known that they were wiped out except for some culturally diluted or mixed race remnants. The descendants of the indigenous people of the West Indies are faced with problems, associated with the myth of their extinction. Although the descendants of Taino community benefited from the extinction theory, stopping slave trade due to assimilation, its cultural and ethnic identity was tainted over time. By the end of the 18th century, Arawaks, an indigenous community in the West Indies, were endangered, and the few remaining were on the brink of extinction. This might lead to loss of identity as a customary group. It is also claimed through historical records that the inhabitants of Indian native background in Trinidad might have disappeared. This might lead to marginalization and economic deterioration of the community. Natives of colonies such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola that were colonized received great magnitudes of the extinction idea.

According to Peter Hume, the natives of the West Indies were constructed as either peaceful and passive Arawaks or warlike and cannibalistic Caribs; how does he go on to problematize those constructs?

Peter Hulme points out indigenous natives of West Indies within their own perceptions and cultures, through what the Spanish invaders saw. The Arawaks were described as peaceful and passive as they lived with the colonialists while the Caribs were violent aggressive and cannibalistic, living away from the rest. The Caribs often attacked the Arawaks. Hulme problematized the contrast between these two groups in that, even though the Arawaks viewed the Caribs as invaders, the Spanish were greater invaders who posed vaster danger to the Arawaks than the Caribs. He further claims that ethnic self ascription is the most illuminating way to distinguish the cultures. This means that a person places him or herself to an ethnic group and identifies with their culture. This makes it possible for the person to decide what cultural differences to be noticed and which ones to stay hidden. Naming was the easiest way for identification. According to Hulme, a person was naturally a part of a culture through recognition by other people outside the culture.

What was the purpose of Columbus’s “Letter” on “Discovering” America. Support your answer.

The discovery of America and subsequent writing of his letter on the new world was done in the second voyage by Columbus in 1493. The letter was addressed to Luis de Santangel, the finance minister of King Ferdinand II on the islands discovered in the Indian Sea. In the letter addressed to the King in 1494, he mentioned that his achievements would give him distinction. He characterized the land as alluring with cowardly natives who would be easy to manipulate. Columbus expressed the financial potentiality of the discovered land and his thoughts of ideas to colonize the new lands owed to the king. He also emphasized of the presence of gold and ways to acquire and process them. This demonstrated the importance of gold to Spain. He talked of trade with the neighboring islands, farming in fertile and better lands, and building up of permanent settlements.

He stated his opinion on taxation: town plans that reflected new colonial territories. In the letter, he envisioned the land being occupied by priests, farmers, and soldiers who were needed for conquest, grow crops, thereby maintain the colony and conversion into Christianity respectively. This letters were written with the intention of gaining support from the minister of finance and the king on future voyages he would make. With the great news he had for the new land regarding settling effortlessly, he wished to entice more people to join him in his next voyage. He wrote the letter to show his craving for power and wealth.

Michel-RolphTroillot writes: “At best, history is a story about power, a story about those who won”. How does he go on to unpack that statement throughout the chapter?

This book is the 18th century examination of the suppression of the role of the Africans in the Haitian Revolution, demonstrating how power silences some people. Trouillot argues that people have the power to create the history, and historical contributions to the silencing of an event can render it nonexistent. He argues that the truth can be manipulated in favor of those in power, making some humans actors while other ones narrators of history. Trouillot focuses on the history of America, the Sans Souci, a Haitian revolutionary, Hitler, and Columbus’ arrival to America. He dwells on historicity between the truth and fiction, the theorizing ambiguity and power tracking. Trouillot supposes that history is what we have been told happened and not the actual facts known to us. The analysis of his ideas can be argued that the difference between the truth and fiction is that each historical narrator claims to say the truth, but the victor will never get to be asked if he told the truth. Trouillot  speaks of theorizing ambiguity and power tracking; this includes factors such as agents of structural positions which suggest our belonging to particular class and social status. The process involves the position of the participant’s subjects in history during the facts creation moments, the collection of facts moment, the retrieval of facts, and final making of history. The above components of a story are used by narrators to realize history.

In your own words, explain how Antonio Benitez-Rojo understands Las Casas’ report on the “plague of ants.”

Antonio Benitez-Rojo is a Cuban critic who expresses his thoughts on Las Casas’ “plague of ants” that it rehearses on the stretched guilty sense of the Spanish Christians on the importation of the Negro slaves plaguing the Caribbean islands. Las Casas compares the Negroes to the ants and applies the psychoanalytic apparatus of Freud to warn on the uninhabited application of the manifested European economy of those being colonized. Benitez promotes some brand of structural monism in his response to Las Casas’ report. He accepts that the psychological sciences cannot be explained through reduction of fundamental inquiry levels.

Custom Issues in the West Indian Discourse Essay

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