Rewriting a slave’s journey

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2012-05-18 19:47Z by Steven

Rewriting a slave’s journey

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Corey Connelly

In his latest publication, Caribbean History from Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present, Dr Tony Martin recaps the many social, economic and political phenomena that have shaped world history over the centuries.

However, the renowned historian tackles the topics in an unapologetically fresh and detailed style, quite unlike the typical and often sedate material contained in survey history publications.

In what might be regarded as a major departure from current texts, contemporary developments such as the collapse of insurance giant Clico and the 2011 riots in the United Kingdom, have also been given space in the 366-page book, Martin’s 14th publication.

“This book has given me the opportunity to put my discontent to some positive purpose and it represents 30 to 40 years of research into Caribbean history and a variety of new perspectives,” Martin, Professor Emeritus of African Studies, Wellesley College, United States, said in a recent Sunday Newsday interview.
He was alluding to what he considered to be the downfall of many current history texts.

“What I have tried to do is practically re-write Caribbean history and so in every aspect of this book you will find information on new perspectives,” he said.

While most books have tended to focus on the period following Christopher Columbus’ conquering of the new world, Caribbean History from Pre-Colonial to the Present examines, in some detail, the fact that “Old World” peoples may very well have come to the Americas before Columbus…

…Martin lamented that history texts, have for the most part, dealt superficially with the sexual abuse of women. He observed, however, that the frequent abuse of women at that time has manifested itself in contemporary society through persons of mixed heritage.

He said, “All you have to do is look around anywhere in the Americas and you will see the percentage of African descendants who are mixed—in Brazil, Trinidad, US.

“Nowadays the racial mixing is voluntary and goes both ways. But for most of the period of our history that racial mixing was one way. It was the white man forcing himself on the African woman who had no rights and could not defend herself in any way.”

Asked why there has not been tremendous emphasis on slavery and the treatment of Africans by authors over the generations, Martin reasoned: “Non-Caribbean people wrote the books and they had a vested interest in not wanting to get the people vexed. I did not write this book to get anybody vexed, but at the same time it is hard to read the stuff and not get upset. As an historian, I feel I have an obligation to set the record straight and wherever the record takes us, I will go.” Martin, in the publication, also addressed the fact that some Africans, for fear of death, had conspired with the white slave masters to oppress their own people…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,