Contemporary Indian, Caribbean and Canadian Literatures:
(De-)Colonization, National Identity and Migration
I. History of Slavery and Diaspora
Slavery and the Triangle trade (from Europe to Africa to Americas)
a. definition 1. societal institution
based on ownership, dominance, and exploitation of one human being by another
and reciprocal submission on the part of the person owned.
2. Members of family can be separated at the will of the owner.
3. Slavery at present--the selling of people or self-sale for
special purposes--e.g. prostitution; the outpouring of mainland Chinese
workers to places such as U.S. and Taiwan
b. the Triangle Trade:
1. route: from England, with merchandise such as weapons, ammunition,
metal, liquor, trinkets, and cloth, to the west Coast of Africa.
From Africa, with human cargo, to either West Indies or English colonies.
And then with agricultural products such as sugar back to England.
2. "Middle Passage" --
Diagram of a middle passage slave ship, showing the
appalling conditions of transportation. Identity and Difference
Drawings of the Middle Passage by Feelings
Replaced by Indentured Labour in the 19th
3. this trade is a source of wealth to tribal chiefs, to the
shipping business, to plantation owners in the South of U.S., and to merchants
and shipbuilders in the North.
4. An estimated 8 to 15 million Africans reached the Americas
from the 16th throught the 19 century, with a peak of about 6 million
arriving in the 18th century alone.
diagram from Sander Gilman's Difference and Pathology of racial/ethnic
classifications by physical charaacteristicss, such as cranial shape and
Identity and Difference 308
Other peoples abroad who have also maintained strong identities
have, in recent years, defined themselves as diasporas, though they were
neither active agenets of colonization nor passive victims of persecution.
Diaspora: The word "diaspora" is derived from
the Greek verb speiro (to sow) and the preposition dia (over).
When applied to humans, the ancient Greeks thought of diaspora as migration
and colonization. By contrast, for Jews, AFricans, Palestinians and
Armenians the expression acquired a more sinister and brutal meaning.
Diaspora signified a collective trauma, a banishment, where one dreamed
of home but lived in exile.
All diasporic communities settled outside their natal
(or imagined natal) territories, acknowledge that "the old country"--a
notion often buried deep in language, religion, custom or folklore--always
has some claim on their loyalty and emotion. (Robert
Five kinds of Diaspora: Victim(e.g. Jews, Africans,
Armenians), Labour (Indian, Chinese), Trade (Chinese and
Lebanese), Imperial (the British), Cultural diasporas(the
Cohen, Robin. Global Diaspora: An Introduction.
Seattle: U of Washington P, 1997.