Marginalized peoples, racialized slavery and the emergence of the Atlantic Creoles

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A comparison of some of the assumptions that underpin current debates among linguists over the emergence of creole languages with some of those that undergird recent debates among historians over the emergence of racialized slavery reveals some common biases that render both of limited utility in their quest to account for the facts. Partisans on either side of both controversies tend to put forward simplistic, mono-causal explanations for highly complex phenomena, while ignoring important aspects of the social, political, cultural, and economic matrices from which both creole languages and racialized slavery emerged. The net result of these tendencies has been to silence the voices of marginalized peoples and to render invisible their considerable agency in the forging of the languages, cultures, and histories of the colonial era. Once these tendencies are abandoned, fresh perspectives and possibilities open up for moving us beyond these stagnant debates to account for the facts in a more satisfying way.


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