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The colonial history of Culture among African peoples in Louisiana - Book Report/Review Example

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Your Name Prof’s # Date The Colonial History of Culture Among African Peoples in Louisiana Louisiana was in many ways a unique colony. It had a completely different cultural makeup from any of the other European colonies in North or South America, and changed hands between European powers more often and more frequently than any other…
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The colonial history of Culture among African peoples in Louisiana
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Download file to see previous pages This cultural uniqueness continues to the modern day, with Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, being famous for its food, culture, embracing of the French language, continued use of the Creole language, and many other things that make Louisiana truly unique. In order to fully understand the culture of Louisiana, one must delve into its colonial history, including its administration by a variety of European colonists but also the origins of the African slaves who were brought over, and what their African and North American culture added to this delightful mix. In the book Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century, historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall demonstrates how the conflux of unique European colonial history, strong indigenous populations, and unique slave populations created a unique African-Creole culture in Louisiana that formed the basis of today’s Louisiana culture. One of the most important aspects of Louisiana’s colonial culture was an amount of inherent fluidity to racial and ethnic boundaries that did not exist in other colonies. This fluidity had several origins. First was probably French policy – the French government saw the maintenance of healthy relationships with indigenous peoples as essential, and, unlike their British counterparts were more interested with trading and exploiting indigenous peoples than simply taking their land (Hall, 27). This created an atmosphere that was relatively accepting of differing practices. The fluid racial, ethnic and cultural space was also augmented by the relative mismanagement of French Louisiana – food shortages were extraordinarily common (Hall, 34), and in many cases of food shortages white settlers or soldiers would be sent to live among indigenous tribes in order to escape starvation (Hall 15). Even when starvation was not completely imminent, there was still a significant amount of interchange between indigenous and colonial peoples because the colonists relied on indigenous traders for almost all of their income (through the fur trade) and also for sustenance: the vast majority of crops grown in early Louisiana were cash crops such as tobacco and indigo that did not succeed in the world market, meaning and most colonists sustained themselves, especially in the early years, by buying excess corn from indigenous people rather than growing crops that that could sustain them (Hall 49). The early make-up of the colonies also helped create an atmosphere of cultural fluidity. The earliest colonists, at least the earliest successful ones, were French Canadians that came to Louisiana down the Mississippi river (Hall 40). These colonists were by far most focused on survival over almost anything else, and were more willing than other colonists (especially those actually from France itself) to engage in cultural syncretism and adapt in whatever way was necessary in order to survive. The early Colonial makeup of French Louisiana, both in terms of management by the French powers-that-were and colonial makeup of the population, led to a society that was more open to cultural mixing and “other” cultures continuing to exist, rather than forced domination of French culture above everything else. This created an environment where cultural creation and syncretism could flourish, something that was not possible in most other colonies. The cultural situation in Louisiana was ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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