African and French Cultural Narratives in Martinique: The Architecture of Social Dominance from 1635–1848 (Part 1)

By R. Scott Smith.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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A salient aspect of the circumstances under which a group emigrates to another land is the degree of autonomy and choice involved in that emigration and resettlement. How might varying degrees of choice in emigration impact how a host community adapts to these newcomers over time? Further, how do the reactions of a host community to new members of a society affect the cultural narratives of those newcomers, and in turn, how are the cultural narratives of that host community affected by how newcomers respond to them? The Caribbean island of Martinique is an excellent natural laboratory within which these questions can be examined. French colonists created the initial “host” community via the creation of hierarchies of social dominance for African slaves, setting in motion the dynamic of the effects of freely chosen immigration in relation to forced enslavement. African responses to social dominance in turn engender shifts in the cultural narratives of both Africans and the French. The interaction of ecological and cultural factors influencing individual and collective behaviors within each group from the 1600s through contemporary social contexts will be examined. One cannot understand contemporary Martinican society without addressing the architecture of this hierarchy. It is through this lens that the shifting cultural narratives of the African slaves and the French settlers will be explored.

Keywords: Martinique, Cultural Identity, Resettlement, Intergroup Relations, Diaspora, Covert Resistance

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 226.441KB).

Dr. R. Scott Smith

Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Utica College, Utica, NY, USA

R. Scott Smith received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1990. He is a community psychologist investigating pedagogy and racial and cultural diversity issues, and is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Utica College.