Slave Society

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Caribbean Pages: 6 (2208 words) Published: March 9, 2014


Slavery done so we do not need to remember it!” Respond to this statement drawing specific reference to the nature of slave society and how the enslaved fought against their enslavement.

Slavery done so we do not need to remember it!” Respond to this statement drawing specific reference to the nature of slave society and how the enslaved fought against their enslavement.

Every society, in the Caribbean or anywhere else, is a product of the particular historical forces that shaped it and gave it form. For the Caribbean the most impactful historical force was the introduction of slavery and slave societies to the Caribbean and the period thereafter, up until its abolition. Although slavery is done, it is still important that we remember it and those who fought against it for freedom. Slavery refers to a condition in which individuals are owned by another, who control where they live and at what they work. Slavery brings about a particular kind of society as a slave society. (N.p, 2009) A slave society is one where the fundamental class conflict is based on the division of people into masters and slaves, with slaves being the dominant producing class, and ownership over this complete commodification of the human being controlled by masters. (Encyclopedia of Marxism)Slave societies were established in the Caribbean by six European powers between 1492 when Columbus discovered the ‘New World’ and the abolition of slavery in the eighteenth century. The most impactful of these European powers were Spain, England, France and Holland upon the socio-economic development of the region. England eventually succeeded in overpowering the other nations in territorial acquisition. (Shepherd)

Having obliterated a vast number of indigenous people in many of the Caribbean islands and conquered their land resources, the Europeans with no intentions of working the land themselves, seeked means of obtaining servile labour as this was seen as the best way to maximize profits from land agriculture and this is what began what was known as the ‘Atlantic Slave Trade’. The Atlantic Slave Trade was the process by which Africans were brought primarily from the west coast of Africa from places such as Mali, Congo, Senegal, Biafra, and Sierra Leone to the Caribbean and America by Europeans. These Africans were brought over to the Caribbean by very large ships by their enslavers; this trip across the Atlantic Ocean was labeled the “middle passage”, where some of the enslaved Africans died from hunger, diseases, punishment and resistance (Kingston 1992). Slavery was a system maintained through fear and violence. In order for the enslavers to retain supremacy over the slaves in spite of their dying need to obtain freedom, they established certain controls. “Their principal method was that of "divide and rule". Members of the same tribe were separated on different plantations to prevent communication between them. The aim behind this was to prevent any plans to rebel if they were together. Slaves were also prevented from practicing their religions. Quite a few slaves were Muslims while many others had their own tribal beliefs. But since the Christian planters saw non-Christians as pagans, they made sure that the slaves could not gather to worship in the way they were accustomed when they lived in Africa. Another means of control was the creation of a class system among the slaves. Field slaves formed the lowest group, even though some of them had special skills. Then there were the factory slaves who worked in the sugar boiling process. Higher up were the artisan slaves such as blacksmiths, carpenters and masons, who were often hired out by the planters. These slaves also had opportunities to earn money for themselves on various occasions. Still higher up in this class system were the drivers who were specially selected by the White planters to control the other slaves. The domestic or house slave had a special place in...
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