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There is no single Caribbean culture. Do you agree? Provide arguments and examples to support your answer.

The term culture can be defined as the full range of learned human behaviour patterns. It includes beliefs, values, behaviours and physical objects that create peoples way of life. In a sense people create their culture and this culture in turn shapes their behaviour. Linton (1945) also defines culture as the way of societys members; the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation. The Caribbean to use a clich is a cultural melting pot that has inputs from nearly every continent. The diasporic spectrum ranges from India, Africa, Europe and China to name the major ones. Therefore the Caribbean presents a wide range of cultural forms within a small geographic space. The statement, there is no single Caribbean culture is at once true and incorrect at the same time. It is immediately obvious that no two Caribbean islands bear the same value systems, norms etc according to the particular historical context. However it is also incorrect because all value systems were informed by the same original historical models and inputs that are the legacies of colonialism and the plantation. It may be more accurate to say that the Caribbean illustrates many different hybrids of the original model or models and in this lies the difference as well as the challenges Therefore the Caribbean has one culture to the extent that the core cultural determinants of each Caribbean island remain the same; discovery, colonization, the plantation, slavery/indentureship, emancipation, independence and globalization. Thus from a historical perspective the shared history is the indisputable commonality that unifies the Caribbean cultural landscape. The mere fact that the Caribbean was populated with indigenous people from the same tribe in the first instance then the same of Africa and to a lesser extent India shows latent retention and hybridization commonalities rather than differences. The beating of African drums, the music and songs of resistance, the poetry of reparation all serve as examples of a cultural commonality that transcends the vacuum of geo-political insularity. Up to this day, the African drum remains a symbol of struggle and celebration in all Caribbean islands. The country of origin does not matter, the message to the metropole does and it is a shared iconic intellectual revolt that is based upon a burgeoning sense of cultural identity. The peasantry group also attests to the same development paradigm working in each Caribbean territory. Self-reliance, but also social cooperation was the lesson taught by this group. Today, the same economic struggle echo across the Caribbean. Clearly from the angle of historical and future development iniatives such as CARICOM, the CSME and CCJ, reflect regionalism and proves that the Caribbean shares the same values thus cultural identity. However on the other hand the statement, there is no single Caribbean culture can be true to the extent that although all Caribbean islands experienced discovery, colonization, the plantation, slavery/indentureship, emancipation, independence and globalization they all developed differently in

terms of customs, norms and values. This is because the Caribbean is a plural society. M.G Smith the founder of this thesis explains that a common system of basic institutions is shared in homogeneous societies. However in plural societies, there are alternative and exclusive institutions that exist and, as a result, the basic institutions are not shared. In Caribbean societies, he sees the major cultural elements, the Whites, Africans, East Indians, and Chinese, each practicing different forms of the common institutions such as marriage, family and religion, Thus the proportion of a certain cultural element determines the culture and each Caribbean territory do not have the same mixture of races so the cultures differ. For example if the culture of Trinidad is compared to that of Jamaica there will be major differences in the cultures. For example in Trinidad we have a food called doubles which comes from the Indians, unlike Jamaica. Also the main musical art form in Trinidad is Soca and Calypso whereas Reggae is the music Jamaica is famous for. Similarly Rastafarianism is the main religion in Jamaica however the same cannot be said for the other islands of the Caribbean. Thus it is true that the statement, there is no single Caribbean culture is both true and incorrect at the same time.