THE WEST INDIANS Portrait of a PeopleProduct no.: HP113
Before the arrival of Europeans in the West Indies in the 15th century, the region was inhabited by Amerindian peoples – Caribs and Arawaks. But within a decade of their arrival, the Europeans had exterminated most of the indigenous peoples and had begun to replace them with enslaved Africans.
Renowned Brazilian sociologist, cultural anthropologist and historian, Gilberto Freyre stated that when the Africans arrived in the ‘New World’ they ceased being African. Instead, they were ‘West Indian Blacks’ who were slaves. They were broken and battered, and were being moulded into what the Europeans required – labour for their plantations.
This work draws from history, anthropology, sociology, economics, literature and culture, and examines Freyre’s contention. It also looks at the forces and methods used by the Europeans in what the author calls the “de-Africanisation of the Africans” and the creation of the West Indians.
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