African Diaspora In The New Wo Essay

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African Diaspora In The New Wo Essay, Research Paper African Diaspora In the New World The study of cultures in the African Diaspora is relatively young. Slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade brought numerousAfricans, under forced and brutal conditions, to the New World. Of particular interest to many recent historians and Africanists is the extent to which Africans were able to transfer, retain, modify or transform their cultures under the conditions of their new environments. Three main schools of thought have emerged in scholarly discussion and research on this topic. Some argue that there are no significant connections between Africans and African American communities in the Americas. Others argue that Africans retained significant aspects of their cultures. Similar

to this argument, some have argued that Africans, responding to their new environments, retained and transformed African cultures into new African-American ethnic units. Detailed research done on slave communities in Surinam, South Carolina and Louisiana allow us to look deeper into the statedarguments. Having recently addressed the same issues using Colonial South Carolina as a case study, I will focus largely on some of the arguments and conclusions drawn from this study. The evidence from South Carolina, Louisiana and Surinam supports the second and third arguments much more than the first. The third argument, that of cultural transformation, is the argument I find to be most valid. John Thornton’s analysis of this issue is extremely helpful. He addresses the “no

connections” arguments in chapters 6, 7 and 8. He outlines the claims made by scholars Franklin Frazier, Stanley Elkins, Sidney Mintz and Richard Price. Frazier and Mintz believe that the extreme trauma and disruption experienced by Africans during the process of enslavement and the middle passage minimized the possibility that they maintained aspects of their cultures in the new world. They argue that this process “had the effect of traumatizing and marginalizing them, so that they would became cultural receptacles rather than donors” (152). Mintz and Price have argued the slave trade had the effect of “permanently breaking numerous social bonds that had tied Africans together…” (153). Another element of the “no connections” argument claims that Africans did not

receive enough associational time with each other or with those of similar ethnic backgrounds to ensure survival of cultural practices. Drawing largely upon the study of Anthropology, Thornton attempts to outline conditions for cultural survival and transformation. He contends these arguments stating that opportunities existed for viable communities to be formed, that there were prospects for passing on “changing cultural heritage to a new generation through training of offspring” and that there existed opportunities for Africans to associate with themselves (153). Thornton finds much more evidence for cultural transformation than cultural “transplantation.” He notes the tendency of researchers to focus on specific “Africanisms” rather than the cultural totality

andstresses the fact that “cultures change through constant interaction with other cultures…” (209, 207). I agree with Thornton’s analysis. As stated in a passage from our paper: It would be na ve to think that after being enslaved and transported across the sea to a foreign continent African slaves wereable to physically transplant their cultures in this new environment. It would be equally na ve to believe no elements of African culture made their way to this region… Africans were interacting with Europeans and other Africans of different ethnic groups, adapting to the realities of their new environments and transforming elements of both old and new into their own African-American culture. (Bright & Broderick 10). Evidence exists that shows Africans were allowed