In Resistance: Studies in African, Caribbean, and Afro-American History

In Resistance: Studies in African, Caribbean, and Afro-American History

In Resistance: Studies in African, Caribbean, and Afro-American History

In Resistance: Studies in African, Caribbean, and Afro-American History

Excerpt

BARBARA BUSH

The Asante proverb in the chapter title emphasizes the centrality of kinship bonds to traditional West African social and economic life. Within this kinship structure, women played a central role. Until the recent upsurge of interest in the "black perspective" of the slave experience, it was assumed that transference to the New World destroyed or severely damaged these vital kinship bonds. Consequently a negative view of slave family life as highly disorganized has been presented in which women are portrayed as either scarlet wenches or domineering matriarchs. Yet even contemporary accounts offer conflicting images of women and there is much evidence to contradict this view. If such evidence is reevaluated from a less-Eurocentric perspective, it may be argued that, in reality, slaves struggled to recreate their traditional kinship bonds, for it was within the family and community that they found the strength to survive servitude. Because of their central role as wives and mothers, slave women contributed significantly to this important area of cultural resistance.

Culture is not simply materialistic (artifacts) or idealistic (ideas) but encompasses all forms of social relationships and is interwoven with an individual's everyday existence from birth to death. Society and culture are inseparable concepts and must be studied historically, for they are not an integrated whole but an area of struggle and change. If the cultural base of any community is threatened, resistance becomes essential to survival. For New World slaves . . .

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