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Volume 55 / Social Sciences


West Indies

LAMBROS COMITAS, Gardner Crowles Professor of Anthropology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Director, Research Institute for the Study of Man

THIS SECTION IS DESIGNED to include publications in sociocultural anthropology dealing with the Caribbean archipelago, the Guianas, Belize, and the several West Indian cultural enclaves located in other parts of the Caribbean mainland. In this issue, roughly two-thirds of the publications annotated deal with 20 countries or dependencies: Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The remaining publications deal with the Caribbean in general or intra- or inter-regional comparisons of one sort or another. The territories or units receiving the most anthropological attention were, in order: the Caribbean in general, Trinidad, and French Guiana. For the reader's convenience, I list below, in several broad categories, those items annotated which deal with the most representative subjects or orientations.


As I indicated in HLAS 53, Caribbean anthropology has long been ambivalent in its use of historical perspective. Nonetheless, as reflected in the number of publications with diachronic dimensions cited in that last issue, the interest in and value of history for anthropologists appeared to have grown considerably. This tendency has persisted during this report period. See, for example, Baker on the ethnohistory of Dominica (item bi 95024469), Dreyfus on native political networks in western Guiana (item bi 00000000), González on ethnic identity and inter-ethnic relations during and after the Carib War (item bi 94002859), Lazarus-Black on law and society in Antigua and Barbuda (item bi 95024474), and Olwig on the development of Nevisian cultural identity (item bi 95024460). Anthropological contributions to the understanding of slavery also continue apace. For these materials, see Binder's collection on slavery in the Americas (item bi 95024467), Hoogbergen on marronage and slave rebellions in Suriname (item bi 95018234), Jamard's intra-regional comparison of slavery (item bi 93010926), Mintz on food and eating habits of slaves (item bi 95018229), Mörner on patterns of social stratification in the 18th and 19th centuries (item bi 95001211), Palmie on ethnogenetic processes in Afro-American slave populations (item bi 95018227), and the reedition of Rubin and Tuden's work on comparative perspectives of slavery in New World plantation societies (item bi 95024398).


a) Ethnicity and Identity. A great deal of the contemporary research on the Caribbean seems to be focused on questions related to ethnicity and identity. In addition to the studies of González and Olwig listed above, publications dealing with these themes from a more synchronic perspective include the following on the Dominican Republic: Davis on music and black ethnicity (item bi 95018241), Douany on ethnicity, identity and the merengue (item bi 95018242), and Nyberg-Sorensen on Creole culture and Dominican identity (item bi 94001450). For publications with a Trinidadian focus, see Birth on coup, carnival, and calypso (item bi 94014621), Eriksen on multiple traditions and cultural integration and on ethnicity and nationalism (items bi 93001659 and bi 95024463), Gosine on the East Indian odyssey (item bi 95024592), Houk on the Africanization of the Orisha tradition (item bi 95018230), Khan on food pollution and hierarchy, and on what is a "Spanish" (items bi 94002786 and bi 95018231), the Premdas collection on the enigma of ethnicity (item bi 95019098), Sampath on the creolisation of East Indian adolescent masculinity (item bi 95018225), Segal on race and color in pre-independent Trinidad (item bi 94002782), Vertovec on Hindu Trinidad (item bi 95024521), and Yelvington's edited work entitled Trinidad ethnicity (item bi 93006782), together with his two contributions to that volume, a substantive introduction, and a chapter on ethnicity at work (items bi 95018251 and bi 95018252). For other contributions to these themes, see Lefever (item bi 93020237) and Purcell (item bi 95021281) on West Indians in Costa Rica, Spencer-Strachan on problems of self-identity among diasporic Africans (item bi 95024473), M.G. Smith on theoretical aspects of race and ethnicity (item bi 95018248), and Young on becoming a West Indian in St. Vincent (item bi 94006746).

b) Maroon Culture and Society. Mainland research of this genre remains active. For instance, see Bilby et al. on vocabulary related to food and its usage among the Boni and Djuka (item bi 93020234), Bruleaux on descriptions of native food resources in French Guiana (item bi 93020232), Groot et al. on Aluku/Boni history (item bi 93020234), Hurault on material culture and art styles of the Boni, Djuka, and Saramaka (item bi 93020235), and Price's diary of an ethnographic expedition to collect maroon artifacts (item bi 93020233).

c) Gender Relations and Women's Studies. See Abraham on industrialization and female-headed households in Curaçao (item bi 95018222), D'Amico on a reconsideration of female-headed households in Jamaica (item bi 95018240), Greene on race, class, and gender in the future of the Caribbean (item bi 95021273), Handwerker on empowerment and fertility transition on Antigua (item bi 95018239), Schnepel on language and gender in the French Caribbean (item bi 95024397), and Sobo on health, sickness, and gender relations among the Jamaican poor (item bi 95024470).

d). Rural Studies/Peasantry. See Alvarado Ramos on rural settlement types in Cuba (item bi 94004423), Crichlow on family land tenure (item bi 95018244), Griffith et al. on the proletarianization in Puerto Rican fisheries (item bi 93001802), LeFranc on land tenure in St. Lucia, and on a small farming village in Dominica (items bi 95024746 and bi 95021270), and Wylie's comparison of crises of glut in the Faroe Islands and Dominica (item bi 95018249).

e) Language and Society. See Cooper on orality and gender in Jamaican popular culture (item bi 95024465), Schieffelin and Doucet on Haitian Creole (item bi 95018224), and Schnepel on the Creole movement and East Indians in Guadeloupe (items bi 95018223 and bi 95018254).

f) Religion. Five books or collections make up this category: see Brandon on santería (item bi 95024466), Murphy on working the spirit (item bi 95024461), the Simposio Internacional on ancestor cults (item bi 94006744), Spiritual Baptists on African-derived religions in the Caribbean (item bi 95018246), and Traditional spirituality in the African diaspora (item bi 95018248).

g) Reviews and assessments. I include here Guanche Pérez and Campos Mitjans on Cuban cultural anthropology in the 20th century (item bi 93023944), Kimber's geographical review of aboriginal and peasant cultures (item bi 94003956), Olwig on Danish scholarship on the West Indies (item bi 95024459), and Oriol's appreciation of the anthropological work on Haiti by Louis Price Mars (item bi 93009488).

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