Caribbean Studies: A Symposium

Caribbean Studies: A Symposium

Caribbean Studies: A Symposium

Caribbean Studies: A Symposium

Excerpt

This book has a two-fold significance: first, it is indicative of the maturing of the social sciences, i.e., anthropology and sociology, as the result of the mutual enrichment which they have undergone; and secondly, it contains the results of the application of the methods of social science to certain aspects of what is probably the most important problem of the modern world. On the surface, these two contributions may appear unrelated, but only a little reflection is required for one to realize that the development of these social sciences is closely related to the development of western civilization. The application of the scientific method to the study of both European and non- European societies has been a phase of the triumph of the scientific spirit which has been one of the main characteristics of western civilization. At the same time as the spread of western civilization has influenced all the peoples of the earth, it has created the very socio-cultural problems with which the articles in this book are concerned. In this brief introduction, which I had the honour to be invited to contribute, an attempt will be made to emphasize the nature of these socio-cultural problems and to present some comments, not so much on the methods and techniques employed as on the conceptual standpoint of the social sciences in studying these problems.

It is generally agreed that the great event of the twentieth century has been, as Toynbee has written, the impact of western civilization on all the other living societies in the world. This impact has been characterized by the spread of European technology, the expansion of European peoples, and the diffusion of European ideologies. The expansion of European peoples and culture has created certain racial and cultural frontiers, one of which is the tropics. On the whole, the tropics is the same culture sphere of the New World which is designated in the first pages of this book as "Plantation- America". Since the other culture spheres are described in ethnic terms as "Euro-America" and "Indo-America", the reader may ask why "Plantation- America" was not designated "Negro-America". In this area, the Negro has been the chief ethnic or racial group and has been the main influence in its culture. Moreover, even if one accepts the position that man's adaptation to the tropics is cultural rather than biological, the future of the tropics, it appears, belongs to the Negro or non-European races. There will not arise the problems of the multi-racial communities such as are found in the southern States of the United States and in the highlands of Africa where white settlement on a large scale has been possible.

In the tropical areas where racial frontiers have been created as the result . . .

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