Caribbean diasporas in North America and Europe

Categories: Slavery And Freedom


Before starting to discuss the relations between the modern day phenomenon called globalization and its effects on/influence over Caribbean identity from a cultural perspective, an appreciation of the history of this region is critical to a fuller understanding of the contemporary realities and challenges. The entire Caribbean shares a common history, spanning over five centuries, of slavery, colonialism and 'globalization'.

Imperialist competition among European powers led to Columbus' arrival in the West Indies and the eradication of the indigenous Amerindian population.

Most Caribbean islands thereafter became home to African slaves transported over great distances; later, after abolition, populations of indentured Asians were brought over even greater distances to replace slave labour. More recently, tourism has brought many foreigners to the Caribbean while massive outward migration has created large Caribbean diasporas in North America and Europe.

The region's economic future continues to be dominated by institutions and events in distant places. Quoting further from Rex Nettleford, "the encounter of Africa and Europe on foreign soil and these in turn with the indigenous Native Americans on their long tenanted estates and all in turn with latter-day arrivants from Asia and the Middle East, has resulted in a culture of texture and diversity held together by a dynamic creativity.

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Description of the typical Caribbean

An apt description of the typical Caribbean is that he or she is part-African, part-European, part-Asian, part Native American but totally Caribbean; to understand this is to understand creative diversity". We speak of this region of some 30 million inhabitants as Hispanic Caribbean, Anglophone Caribbean, Francophone Caribbean, Dutch-speaking Caribbean, emphasizing by this hyphenation, a fragmentation which is the legacy of a heritage of separation and shattered identities.

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Yet, this has not posed any limitations on us as we go through that "awesome process of becoming". We have survived the traumas of separation from the mother country as part of the slave trade and the indignity of the dehumanization of slavery through the use of that creative imagination resulting 'in the germ of a culture which shares more in common than many would care to believe". (Nettleford).

Difference between political systems

Our political systems may differ but this is part of the dilemma of difference which is a manifestation of the complex process of diversity demanding of all of us in the region the capacity to build bridges across not only classes and races of people within countries of the region but also between zones of former imperial influences represented in the region through centuries of migration and continuing interaction through tourism, commercial transactions and professional contacts.

Having struggled for centuries with mastery of our diversity, we in the Caribbean have learnt to live together rather than merely side- by- side; but the communications technology revolution and tremendous improvement in travel facilities now dictate the urgent need for people to learn to live together, to deal with the dilemma of difference in ways that will serve to enhance the quality of life for the people of the region.

In spite of differences, what we all seem to have in common is a full grasp of the power of cultural action in affording a sense of place and of purpose. Although many Caribbean countries achieved political independence in the decade of the 60s, issues of economic and cultural dependency have been acknowledged and written about extensively by Caribbean writers. Communication is seen as a significant locus of struggle in which the people of the Caribbean seek to assert independent cultural identities within the context of external domination.

The struggle is played out in the arenas of popular culture in which individuals and communities seek to make legitimate, local cultural practices within the context of domination by imported cultural forms, and mass communications, in which individuals, communities and nation states strive for access to media technologies and channels. The Caribbean, forms part of the developing world, commonly referred to as the Third World, and therefore, according to Rex Nettleford, 'makes it the actual victim and /or potential beneficiary of the new style globalization'.

This phenomenon called Globalization, is in fact a combination of the free exchange of goods, services and capital and is characterized by three essential factors:

  • the extent of the economic freedom phenomenon sweeping across the whole world,
  • the increase in technological innovation, especially in the communications field and
  • the interdependence between the different factors.

While the countries of the world are indeed separated by clearly defined boundaries thus emphasizing their territoriality, identity and nationality, in reality these frontiers are becoming less significant with globalization.

This overwhelming process has led to standardized approaches to production processes thus bringing homogenization so far that even customs and habits are affected. Technological progress in the communications field has produced the most spectacular and visible features of globalization. It is all about an integrated communications network which affects ideological living and the political and cultural conditions of all societies, an aspect of the phenomenon often overlooked as we focus on the economic process. In the cultural sphere globalization produces two contradictory phenomena: standardization and diversification.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Caribbean diasporas in North America and Europe. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Caribbean diasporas in North America and Europe essay
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