The enduring function of caste: colonial and modern Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil
The economy of race, the social organization of caste, and the formulation of racial societies
Author: Johnson, Tekla Ali
Source: Comparative American Studies, Volume 2, Number 1, March 2004 , pp. 61-73(13)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Modern day social hierarchies in Jamaica, Brazil and, to a degree, Haiti find their roots in the colonial context, where planters stratified laborers in order to maximize control. During slavery planters found artificial ways of influencing African identity, dividing enslaved Africans by their occupations and by skin color. These distinctions created divisions among workers and color proved a singularly powerful and enduring symbol of social and economic mobility. The American propensity for creating racial classifications for Africans and further divisions for 'mixed-race' offspring traditionally served economic interests. Their perpetuation into the present may signal the continued utility of dividing Africans into subgroups as a means of maintaining control of racial politics in the Americas.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2004-03-01