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Murphy were among this group. Mintz had a long academic career at Yale University —74 before helping to found the Anthropology Department at Johns Hopkins University.

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His work has been the subject of several studies. Mintz Lecture in At Yale, Mintz started as an instructor, but was Professor of Anthropology from to He was awarded a master's degree from Yale University in , a Fulbright senior research award in and in , a William Clyde DeVane Medal from Yale University in and was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, He died on December 26, at the age of 94, following severe head trauma resulting from a fall.

Mintz has served as a consultant to various institutions including the Overseas Development Program, he has conducted field work in several countries, and he has been recognized with many awards including: In his training Mintz was particularly influenced by Steward, Ruth Benedict Mintz a , and Alexander Lesser , [14] and by his classmate and co-author, Eric Wolf Combining a Marxist and historical materialist approach with U. His ethnography centered on how these responses are manifested in the lives of Caribbean people.

Anthropology and History - Sidney Mintz

For Mintz, history did not erode differences to create homogeneity among regions, even while a capitalist world-system was emerging. Larger forces were always confronted by local responses that affected the cultural outcomes. Considering this relationship Mintz wrote:. It must be stressed that the integration of varied forms of labor-extraction within any component region addresses the way that region, as a totality, fits within the so-called world-system.

There was give-and-take between the demands and initiatives originating with the metropolitan centers of the world-system, and the ensemble of labor forms typical of the local zones with which they were enmeshed The postulation of a world-system forces us frequently to lift our eyes from the particulars of local history, which I would consider salutary.


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There were other contradictions: The slave was a capital good, hence not commoditized labor; but some skilled slaves hired out to others produced income for their masters and could keep a share for themselves. This fieldwork was eventually published as The People of Puerto Rico? In a field where insularity is common, and anthropologists usually chose one language area and one colonial power for study, Mintz has done fieldwork in three different Caribbean societies: Puerto Rico , , , Jamaica , , and Haiti , , as well as later working in Iran and Hong Kong , Mintz has always taken a historical approach and used historical materials in studying Caribbean cultures.

Mintz argued that Caribbean peasantries emerged alongside of and after industrialization , probably like nowhere else in the world.

Anthropology and History

Anxious to illustrate complexity and diversity within the Caribbean, as well as the commonalities bridging cultural, linguistic, and political frontiers, Mintz argued in The Caribbean as a Socio-Cultural Area that. Mintz took a dialectical approach that highlighted contradictory forces. The push in Guyana to purchase plantations collectively; the use of cooperative work groups for house building, harvesting, and planting; the growth of credit institutions; and the links between kinship and coordinated work all suggest the powerful individualism that slavery helped to create did not wholly obviate group activity.

Mintz has compared slavery and forced labor across islands, time and colonial structures, as in Jamaica and Puerto Rico Mintz b ; and addressed the question of differing colonial systems engendering differing degrees of cruelty, exploitation , and racism.

The view of some historians and political leaders in the Caribbean and Latin America was that the Iberian colonies, with their tradition of Catholicism and sense of aesthetics, meant a more humane slavery; while north European colonies, with their individualizing Protestant religions, found it easier to exploit the slaves and to draw hard and fast social categories. But Mintz argued that the treatment of slaves had to do instead with the integration of the colony into the world economic system, the degree of control of the metropolis over the colony, and the intensity of exploitation of labor and land.

The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective

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