Licence 2/Semestre 3: NEW: Histoire de la pensée de l’Asie et des Caraïbes

Publié le 7 Février 2023

Academic Year: 2022/2023

Licence 2 - Semestre 3

Histoire de la pensée de l’Asie et des Caraïbes

Dr. Mamadou BA

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I. The Commonwealth of Nations

A. Birth of the Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations, which was created at the end of the First World War (1914-1918), is a free association of independent states from the former British Empire. The process begun in 1926 with the pressures of the dominions, protectorates, and colonies against Great Britain. A dominion is a self-governing nation of the Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom; a protectorate is a government by a protector (government of England under Oliver Cromwell, 1653-1659); a colony is a new territory keeping links with the parent state. Those members of the British Empire requested their autonomy to an Empire weakened by the war.

In 1947, India decided to withdraw from the British Empire and to become a republic led by a Head of State. As many other countries, India wished to remain in the Commonwealth, considering that historical relationships could still function. However, the main argument put forward by the administrators of the British Empire was that all Commonwealth countries would recognize the Queen of the United Kingdom as the symbol of this new body, and as Head of the Commonwealth regardless of whether the member country accepts or not the leadership of the British Monarch. Those countries were also free to seek alliance with other bodies such as the African Union, the ECOWAS, the None Allied Countries, etc. That flexibility and diversity have allowed the Commonwealth to have an influence on international societies.

In 1950, the Commonwealth of Nations gathered 10 members; but it spread very quickly and by 2004, it had some 50 members. The members recognize the Queen of England as Supreme Head of the Commonwealth of Nations. But her leadership is just a symbolic one, and the Secretary General is the Chief Executive Officer.

For a better organization of the functioning of the Commonwealth of Nations, its ministers have put forward a set of rules to abide by (to obey to, to respect), and which are known as “The Commonwealth Principles”.


B. Principles of the Commonwealth of Nations

Though the Commonwealth of Nations has no political body, the heads of states and of governments of the member countries meet every other year (every two years) to discuss world issues on the economic, political, and social levels. Those issues are mostly related to finance, education, healthcare, law, industry, etc. That cooperation between Great Britain and the members of the Commonwealth of Nations is one of the aims of the association and which is materialized by the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles adopted by the heads of governments in a meeting held in Singapore in 1971. The declaration, which plays the role of a constitution (the Commonwealth of Nations has no constitution), focuses on six main principles which the governments are committed to:

  1. the fight against racial discrimination and oppression;
  2. the development of the principle of self-determination;
  3. the fight against poverty, ignorance, and sickness;
  4. the reduction of inequalities of wealth in the world;
  5. the pursuit of world peace and support of the United Nations;
  6. the work for international fair trade for all partners and promote sustained investment and growth in developing countries.


II. The Black diaspora in the English-speaking world

Etymologically, the world “diaspora” means dispersion. In the history of religion, the term is used to refer to the Jews exiled from their original land. Then the word extents to ethnic dispersion (example: Chinese Diaspora, Black Diaspora, Arab Diaspora, etc.).

Therefore, the Black Diaspora refers to the Black people taken away from Africa, and sold to America and the Caribbean during the transcontinental slave trade. The Diaspora includes the Blacks living presently in Europe or America in voluntary or forced exile. In fact, the term would include anyone identifying with Africa and the Black People.


After the “Middle Passage”

In modern societies of North America and the Caribbean, the survival strategy of “fight or flight” in the plantations has left its marks on the psyche of the Blacks of the Diaspora. In fact, blacks lived under sustained harassment whether economic, political, or social. This has led to reactions and resistances of diverse kinds from different locations.

Blacks of the Diaspora or in Africa seemed obliged to face many challenges; what lead to an emergence of Black leaders and thinkers such as William E. B. Du Bois, Cyril L. R. James, George Padmore, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, etc. Those thinkers have influenced Black people’s struggle in some ways. The ideologies and political program they advocate have been central to the political and philosophical thinking and practices of the twentieth century. Among the movements, we can mention The Civil Rights Movement, Black Nationalism, Communism, Pan-Africanism, etc.


III. Complementary notes

A. The Jamaican Maroons

The Maroon Communities are usually regarded as a classic example of Africans carried to America and the Caribbean who resisted slavery, either passively or violently, until its abolition and even beyond. Their eagerness to achieve freedom and their guerrilla methods obliged the British to sign with them a peace treaty in 1738.

The Jamaican Maroon Communities existed as free people 66 years before the independence of Haiti, and 96 years before the abolition of slavery on the island of Jamaica. Their story is very significant in the history of the Black Diaspora. It begun in 1655 with the victory over the Spanish of the British forces who turned the island into a British colony in 1670. The Spaniard sailed away, leaving their slaves to the British. Those slaves found refuge and freedom in the hills where they fought fiercely with the British. The British brought slaves from Africa and expanded the exploitation of cocoa bean and sugar cane.

The term “maroon” derives from both French and English. It carries the same connotation in both languages: the hunters of wild animals on the islands. Later, the word meant “wilderness” and “fierceness”. Another reason for that name was a reference to the color of their skin that was maroon. The first Maroons were under the leadership of Juan Bolas (notice the Spanish origin of the name, symbol of the intercourse with the Spanish people). The British made him colonel in 1663 in an attempt to pacify the Maroons. However, the Maroons assassinated him.


B. The Coromantees

New areas of runaway slaves formed in the northern and eastern parts of the Jamaican island. Those slaves were mostly from Ghana (then called the Gold Coast): they were called the Coromantees. They were slaves shipped from the Koromantyn slave castle near Elmina on the cape coast of Ghana. They were mostly mixtures of Fanti and Ashanti peoples and had a strong training in guerrilla fighting.

The Coromantees obtained full control over the Maroons with whom they found refuge on the hills of Jamaica. The Ashanti Cudjoe organized the Maroon Community, which he led as early as 1693. They fought fiercely against the British for freedom.

On the East side of the island, another strong group of Maroons formed under the leadership of Nanny who was said to be either the wife the sister of Cudjoe. People do not much about her, but her fame is such that a town was name in her honour and she has been posthumously named as the first woman to receive the distinction of national hero in Jamaica in 1975.

The peace treaties of March 1738 and July 1738 ended the fights between the Maroons and the planters (the people who ran from the plantations). Using a fake complacency, the British succeeded in turning the Maroons into an unpaid army and police force until 1865. After many years of fierce war, they became simple peasants, and most of them remained isolated in the mountains.


References (not exhaustive)

  • Berrett, Leonard E. The Rastafarians, the Dreadlocks of Jamaica. Kingston: Sangster Bookstore, 1977.
  • Dallas, R. D. The History of the Maroons. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1803.
  • Long, Edward. The History of Jamaica. London: T. Lowndes, 1974.
  • Price, Richard. Maroon Societies. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1973.

The Jamaican Maroons

Queen Nanny

Rédigé par anglais-ugb

Publié dans #Cours Licence 2

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