Africa in America: Slave Acculturation and Resistance in the American South and the British Caribbean, 1736 - 1831
University of Illinois Press
, 1992 - History
- 412 pages
In an attempt to lay bare the historical and cultural roots of modern African American societies in the South and the British West Indies, Michael Mullin gives a vivid depiction of slave family life, economic strategies, and religion and their relationship to patterns of resistance and acculturation in two major plantation regions, the Caribbean and the American South. Generalized observations of plantation slavery, usually assumed to be the whole of Africans' experience, fail to provide definitive answers about how they met and often overcame the challenges and deprivations of their new lives. Mullin discusses three phases of slave resistance and religion in Anglo-America, both on and off plantations. During the first, or African, phase from the 1730s to the 1760s slave resistance was generally sudden, violently destructive, and charged with African ritual. The second phase, from the late 1760s to the early 1800s, involved plantation slaves who were more conservative and wary. The third phase, from the late 1760s to the second quarter of the nineteenth century, was led by assimilated blacks - artisans and drivers - who, having developed skills both on and off the plantation, led the large preemancipation rebellions. Mullin's case studies of slaveowners and plantation overseers draw on personal diaries and other documents to reveal memorable men whose approaches to their jobs varied widely and were as much affected by interactions with slaves as by personal background, the location of the plantation, and the economic climate of the times. Extensive archival and anecdotal sources inform this pioneering study of slavery as it was practiced in tidewater Virginia, on the rice coast of the Carolinas, and in Jamaica and Barbados. Bringing his training in anthropology to bear on sources from Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the United States, Mullin offers new and definitive information.