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African Diaspora

The study of cultures in the African Diaspora is relatively Slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade brought numerousAfricans, under forced and brutal conditions, to the New World. Of particular interest to many recent historians and Africanists is the extent to which Africans were able to transfer, retain, modify or transform their cultures under the conditions of their new environments. Three main schools of thought have emerged in scholarly discussion and research on this topic. Some argue that there are no significant connections between Africans and African American communities in the Americas. Others argue that Africans retained significant aspects of their cultures. Similar to this argument, some have argued that Africans, responding to their new environments, retained and transformed African cultures into new African-American ethnic units. Detailed research done on slave communities in Surinam, South Carolina and Louisiana allow us to look deeper into the statedarguments. Having recently addressed the same issues using Colonial South Carolina as a case study, I will focus largely on some of the arguments and conclusions drawn from this study. The evidence from South Carolina, Louisiana and Surinam supports the second and third arguments much more than the first. The third argument, that of cultural transformation, is the argument I find to be most valid. John Thornton's analysis of this issue is extremely helpful. He addresses the "no connections" arguments in chapters 6, 7 and 8. He outlines the claims made by scholars Franklin Frazier, Stanley Elkins, Sidney Mintz and Richard Price. Frazier and Mintz believe that the extreme trauma and disruption experienced by Africans during the process of enslavement and the middle passage minimized the possibility that they maintained aspects of their cultures in the new world. They argue that this process "had the effect of traumatizing and marginalizing them, so that ...

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