Caribbean Connections: Cultural Encounters in a New World Setting (CARIB)
What socio-cultural transformations did indigenous communities in the Lesser Antilles undergo from the late precolonial to the early colonial period in response to Amerindian European-African cultural encounters? How did Amerindian populations realign themselves in response to the colonisation process?* What is the research question? How can the study of indigenous Caribbean histories contribute to a more sophisticated heritage awareness that will speak to multiple stakeholders at local and global scales?
- 2013 - 2016
- Corinne Hofman
- HERA Joint Research Programme
- Prof. Dr. Patrick Degryse (Earth and environmental sciences, Centre for archaeological sciences, KU Leuven)
- Prof. Dr. Ulrick Brandes (Department of computer and information science, University of Konstanz)
The cultural encounters between the Old and New Worlds are among the most infamous in human history. The Caribbean was the centre stage for interactions between cultures of dramatically different backgrounds, which after a turbulent colonial period eventually laid the foundations for the modern-day, multi-ethnic societies of the region. The universities of Leiden, Leuven, and Konstanz will combine archaeology, history, archaeometry, and network science to study the trans- formations of Amerindian culture and society as a result of these encounters. Through collaborations with local experts, the involvement of local communities, and the organisation of workshops and museum exhibitions, this project contributes to capacity building and historical awareness. In a geopolitically diverse islandscape, with an archaeological record that is under threat from natural disasters and the growing tourism industry, this project stimulates the valorisation of Caribbean cultural heritage. The team fromthe Netherlands, Belgium, and Germanywill investigate transformations in Caribbean culturesand societiesacross the historicaldividethroughthree complementary projects: (1)Transformations of indigenous settlement patternsand organisation, (2) Continuity and change in materialculture repertoires, and (3) Network transformations across the historicaldivide.
- How did Amerindian settlement pattern and organisation transform across the historical divide?
- What changes are visible in indigenous material culture repertoires from the late pre-colonial to the early colonial period?
- What transformations occurred in Lesser Antillean social networks across the historical divide?
The Central Research Project focuses on inter-community social relationships and transformations of island cultures, and societies in the Lesser Antilles across the historical divide (AD 1000-1800). This period represents an archaeologically understudied and turbulent era during which the inhabitants of the Lesser Antilles came under increasing influence from South America and the Greater Antilles, and participated in the last phase of indigenous resistance to colonial powers. The region is ideal for this research because of 1) its geographic location as a chain of small islands between the landmasses of the South American mainland and the Greater Antilles, thus serving as a conduit for interaction and exchange; 2) its continuous Amerindian occupation from 6000 BC until the 18th century; 3) its dynamic situation of Amerindian-European-African interactions: a lasting legacy of the colonial encounters. The primary aim is to understand the impacts of cultural encounters on Lesser Antillean indigenous Carib societies by studying transformations in settlement pattern and organisation, material culture, and network strategies across the historical divide. The trans-national, multi-disciplinary team, combining archaeology, history, archaeometry, and social network studies is uniquely positioned to provide new insights into these transformations throughout the process of colonisation. The multi-disciplinary approach will advance novel perspectives to the study of intercultural dynamics in colonial encounter situations worldwide and will contribute to discussions of indigenous resistance', cultural transformations, and cultural diversity in an ever globalizing world.
The cultural encounters between the Old and New Worlds are among the most infamous in human history. The Caribbean was the centre stage of the first encounters, the repercussions of which are woven into the fabric of modern multi-ethnic Caribbean society. Yet, our understanding of this important chapter in history is sorely inadequate, because, despite the significant role of the Amerindians in this process, there are large gaps in our understanding of indigenous responses to European colonisation. The Lesser Antilles represent one of the major regions in the Caribbean in which the lasting effects of these encounters can be studied. Uniquely, the Lesser Antilles were party to interactions between cultures with dramatically different ideological, social, technological, and economic frameworks, spanning the entire historical divide. This period (AD 1000-1800) encompasses an era of expanding indigenous pre-colonial networks through to the final phase of Amerindian resistance against colonial powers. Europeans first heard of the Lesser Antilles through Columbus' interactions with the indigenous people of the Greater Antilles, who mentioned their fear of allegedly cannibalistic people living there. The Europeans already held misconceptions about unfamiliar island peoples based on preconceived, late medieval ideas about a 'phantastic insular world'. Their prejudices were reinforced by fierce resistance from the Carib or Kalinago against European occupation of the region. Currently, our views on these encounters are dominated by the descriptions of the early chroniclers. In spite of significant scholarly advances by Caribbean researchers in deconstructing documentary bias and European and colonial preconceptions" the Amerindian past of the Lesser Antilles remains marginalised in the discourse on the archaeology and history of colonial encounters in general.
1. The first objective is to understand impacts of cultural encounters on Lesser Antillean Amerindian societies across the historical divide through the integration of archaeological, historical, archaeometrical, and social network data.
2. The second objective is to increase historical awareness and protection of heritage resources through public exposure, workshops and museum exhibitions. This will be reinforced by the involvement of Caribbean experts, scholars and local communities in the proposed research agenda
A team from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany will investigate transformations in Caribbean cultures and societies across the historical divide through three complementary projects: (1) Transformations of indigenous settlement patterns and organisation, (2) Continuity and change in material culture repertoires, and (3) Network transformations across the historical divide. The synthesis, which will be written in the last year of the Central Research Project, will result in an edited volume. At the end of year 3 a symposium will be held in Leiden with all the PMs, contributions to which will form part of the volume. It is expected that this publication will culminate in a rich narrative of transforming Amerindian culture and society in the face of the colonial encounters, hereby contributing to the theme of cultural encounters on a global scale and bridging the gap between 'prehistory' and history.