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Barry Higman

Slave populations were never truly separate from the free populations within which they existed. The number and proportion of persons in a society who lived as slaves depended on a variety of factors, some internal and some external to the enslaved population. Growth in slave populations resulted from the external processes of enslavement, forced migration, and changes in the status of individuals within societies, and from the internal process of fertility (although some of the fathers of slave children were free persons). Population decrease resulted from changes in the status of the enslaved class at large—abolition and partial abolition—or in the status of individual slaves (through manumission, coartación or maroonage from forced migration and from mortality These events and processes linked enslaved and free people in complex ways In some cases slaves were able to exercise a degree of control over the demographic events whether by acts of resistance ...


Indigenous Cultures in the Caribbean  

Before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean islands in 1492, several indigenous peoples lived in the region. Although there is some disagreement as to how and when they settled in the islands, most scholars agree that evidence exists of an indigenous presence that dates back more than 20,000 years. The two largest groups were the Taino and Carib. They shared similar cultural practices, and both groups spoke a Native American language called Arawak.

The arrival of Europeans in the late 1400s dramatically altered the lives of these indigenous communities. Many died of diseases that were carried across the Atlantic by European sailors. Others were killed in violent disputes with European settlers. The fate of these indigenous communities provides a lens through which we can view the long history of domination and exploitation by European powers in the region.



Peter Martin

The word ‘mulatto’ is derived from the Arabic muwallad, which originally referred to persons who were not ‘genuine’ Arabs, especially individuals born of black–white ‘misalliances’. With the beginning of the transatlantic African slave trade in the fifteenth century, the word mulatto first found its way into Portuguese, and then into almost all European languages, as the term for offspring of mixed European (Caucasian) and African (Negroid) parentage. (Only Afrikaans used the word ‘Bastard’ for such persons.)

The social position of these half breeds varied from place to place and over time On the sugar plantations of Latin America in several Caribbean colonies and in southern and western Africa where white masters faced an overwhelming number of black workers in bondage to them the mulatto and his or her descendants formed a buffer zone between blacks and whites that was indispensable for maintaining the authority and prosperity of the Europeans ...


Native Americans  

Murdo J. MacLeod

Slavery of various kinds was common on both sides of the Atlantic long before the European invasions of the Americas Among the many diverse native American cultures slavery was often temporary or specific with people assigned to the service of others sometimes for identified tasks or for predetermined periods of time Some people sold themselves into slavery as a means of paying off debts or other obligations or of recouping personal family or community fortunes Slavery could be extremely harsh In Meso america for example war captives and others were enslaved in great numbers for the purpose of sacrificing them sooner or later in large public ceremonies The practice of enslaving enemies and then eating them even allowing for exaggeration in Portuguese accounts was common in interior parts of the Amazon Basin Many semino madic groups practiced raiding for women some of whom were then enslaved These examples provide only ...



H. Augstein

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term describes ‘the theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race’. The word itself is rather recent, probably going back only to the 1930s. There are two attitudes towards the concept of racism: one says that ‘racism’ is usefully applied only where it is derived from a perception of race and the ensuing fixation on ‘typical’ racial traits. In this sense ‘racism’ describes the racialist attitudes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, deriving from the merger of physical anthropology und ethnography on the background of the idea of evolution. Another school has argued that racism consists in intentional practices and unintended processes or consequences of attitudes towards the ethnic ‘other’. According to this line of thought, it is not necessary to possess a concept of ‘race’ to entertain prejudices towards other peoples.

As the term was coined in reaction ...