The Gullah People and Their African Heritage

By Cody, Cheryll Ann | The Journal of Southern History, August 2001 | Go to article overview

The Gullah People and Their African Heritage


Cody, Cheryll Ann, The Journal of Southern History


The Gullah People and Their African Heritage. By William S. Pollitzer. (Athens, Ga., and London: University of Georgia Press, c. 1999. Pp. xxiv, 298, $40.00, ISBN 0-8203-2054-4.)

In this book William Pollitzer presents a landmark study of South Carolina's Gullah people and their culture. Pollitzer, trained in population genetics, draws upon a wide range of historical, anthropological, and linguistic research in addition to a lifetime of interviews, observations, and medical studies. Although some of the material will be familiar to students of Lowcountry society and specialists in African American history, Pollitzer's singular achievement is the integration of a growing body of published research with some well-placed primary source evidence and his own intense curiosity. He is uniquely qualified, moreover, to interpret the medical and scientific literature for a broader audience. Pollitzer's central hypothesis is that South Carolina's Gullah people can be linked both genetically and culturally to specific African people. Although he acknowledges that identifying these links is complicated both by the communality of many African cultural traits across societies and the process of creolization in the New World, Pollitzer presents the most comprehensive effort to date that identifies African cultural carry-overs among the Gullah.

Pollitzer divides his work into five parts, each designed to build upon his hypothesis. In Part I ("Who They Are") he outlines some of the most widely recognized African cultural elements present in Gullah society and examines Melville Herskovits's ranking of New World African people based on the intensity of African elements in a variety of classes including technology, social organization, art, and language. Pollitzer suggests that the last sixty years of research, including the genetic evidence he presents, require a revision of Herskovits's ranking. Indeed, he argues that evidence of blood types, plasma proteins, and hemoglobin variants among the Gullah are consistent with a predominantly African population with heavy contributions from the West African coast. In Part II ("Where They Came From") Pollitzer provides a brief overview of African history and cultural variations among African people. He focuses on three culture areas of West Africa and notes the variety of economic activities, connections to Indonesia and Malaysia, and the people's expertise in the cultivation of rice. The author's analysis of the Atlantic slave trade to South Carolina reveals a shift from an initial dominance of Angolan people to a tenfold increase in Senegambian people in the mid-eighteenth century paralleling the rise of the rice and indigo economy.

In Parts III ("What They Have Been") and IV ("What They Created") Pollitzer turns to the Gullah in Lowcountry South Carolina. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Gullah People and Their African Heritage
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.