THE W. E. B. DU BOIS LECTURES
Cover: Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations, from Harvard University PressCover: Three Ancient Colonies in PAPERBACK

Three Ancient Colonies

Caribbean Themes and Variations

As a young anthropologist, Sidney W. Mintz undertook fieldwork in Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Fifty years later, the eminent scholar of the Caribbean returns to those experiences to meditate on the societies and on the island people who befriended him. These reflections illuminate continuities and differences between these cultures, but even more they exemplify the power of people to reveal their own history.

Mintz seeks to conjoin his knowledge of the history of Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico—a dynamic past born of a confluence of peoples of a sort that has happened only a few times in human history—with the ways that he heard people speak about themselves and their lives. Mintz argues that in Jamaica and Haiti, creolization represented a tremendous creative act by enslaved peoples: that creolization was not a passive mixing of cultures, but an effort to create new hybrid institutions and cultural meanings to replace those that had been demolished by enslavement. Globalization is not the new phenomenon we take it to be.

This book is both a summation of Mintz’s groundbreaking work in the region and a reminder of how anthropology allows people to explore the deep truths that history may leave unexamined.

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Why You Should Participate in an (Online) Book Club

Online book clubs can be a rewarding way to connect with readers, Lindsay Chervinsky discovered, when she was invited to join one to discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Since my book was published in April 2020, I’ve discovered that my work appeals to three main audiences. First, the general readers who are enthusiastic about history, attend virtual events, and tend to support local historic sites. Second, readers who are curious about our government institutions and the current political climate and are looking for answers about its origins. And third, history, social studies, and government teachers