Our Culture and Globalization

Our last post introduced to you our region’s history; in essence what shaped our diversity and what makes us who we are. Major elements of our culture include cuisine, music and dance, language, festivals; religious or non religious events. Globalization’s has affected and changed aspects of our indigenous culture within the Caribbean through trade liberalization, technology and media, tourism and migration. The changes to our culture can be seen when we examine the ways in which our cultural identity has taken on new facets of culture that are external to our region. Therefore, the aim of this post will be to address globalization and the impact on culture and identities in the Caribbean.


The Caribbean’s unique history has led our people to embrace foods from different cultures and make it our own. Historically dishes that were made originally in their homeland would now be infused with new ingredients found in the Caribbean.

“The traditional Caribbean diet fulfills many of the balanced nutrition guidelines recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s rich in seafood, a variety of fruits and vegetables and lean protein while being low in refined grains, sugar and salt.” (Livestrong) — even they know it!

Due to Globalization, however, we’ve moved away from our home cooked, traditional foods and we are becoming more and more inclined to indulging in fast food Multinational Corporations (MNCs) as our source of sustenance. The shift from our healthier traditional meals to that of fast food will prove to have negative health effects in the long run for our people as it has been for Westerners.

“Fast foods reduce the quality of diet and provide unhealthy choices especially among children and adolescents raising their risk of obesity.” (News Medical)




There have been several different styles of music that originated on the islands of the Caribbean. Some of the genres include traditional Puerto Rico Aguinaldo, Jamaican Mento, Calypso, Soca(Trinidad and Tobago), Reggae and Dancehall (Jamaica). The Caribbean has indigenous instruments such as the Steel pan of Trinidad and Tobago, Tanbou of Haiti, Bordonua of Puerto Rico and the Nyabinghi drums from Jamaica. Dances such as the limbo, Danzas de Salon and Jonkonnu have been associated with the Caribbean. (DanceTnT) Our music and dance has been, unmistakably, influenced by our historical roots. Due to Globalization, Caribbean people are moving away from more traditional types of music and dance that are indigenous to the islands. They are embracing more readily, the foreign, Western music and dance associated with “pop culture”. The influence of Western ideals can also be seen, pushing its way into the concepts behind some of our music videos. For example the “club or party scene” that is portrayed in Hip Hop or R&B can be seen in our Soca and Dancehall music videos.

 Links to samples of our music:

Jamaican Mento: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aro4PaEgXM8

Reggae: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHekNnySAfM

Soca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBnXCEvEMtM

Aguinaldo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRlW78Ot_nE


Languages spoken in Caribbean islands, like many facets of our culture, have been a direct result of our history. In the Caribbean, the language spoken within the island is “usually determined by which colonial power — England, France, Spain, or Holland — held sway over the island first or longest.” (About Travel) Apart from the main languages spoken, there is Patois, Skepi, Papiamentu, Saramaccan. (University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica) These languages, recognized as creole languages, are sadly, fading and becoming extinct. “Wade (1997) maintains that we will continue to use language of ours but we will all know that these languages are giving way to English language.” (Yusf Abdulraheem) The English language has dominated through the internet, television, movies, music and business operating in other countries. According to an article by Abdulraheem, he makes mention that the English language is becoming prominent in Nigeria, however this can also be said for the Caribbean. He explained its prominence is due to the fact that English is the language of Western advertising, movies, music and has also been attributed to the Western ideal of being successful. As more persons begin to speak English, it can be noted that there has been the disappearance of other less dominantly advertised languages, especially the creole languages born within the Caribbean. Globalisation, media and technology has facilitated this disappearance and it must be mentioned that as languages are lost so too are traditions.


Festivals in the Caribbean are numerous. Being Religious or non religious, there is always something unique to experience within each of the islands. “Festivals are very important in the Caribbean and reflect the rich cultural diversity and history of our region. Festivals are considered a great potential for cultural entrepreneurship and provide at the same time various forms of cultural expression.” (Caribbean Community Secretariat) Festivals such as Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival, Jamaica’s Sumfest, Surifesta in Suriname, Cayman Islands’ Gimistory and Antigua’s Sailing week all play a part in attracting tourism to the islands. The influence of Western Celebrities and media has become undeniable. Caribbean persons attempting to penetrate into this network face difficulties in doing so unless assisted by already dominant figures within their “pop culture”. Some persons in charge of Caribbean cultural events are now turning to foreign celebrities to help promote the events to wider audiences in which they hold influence. Globalization in this case has not set a level playing field for the exposure of our Caribbean cultures to the world as compared to the influence of their Western culture on our daily lives.

In addition to festivals there are also religious holidays and event such as Phaagwah, Eid – Ul – Fitr, Christmas and Divali. Christmas for example is becoming more and more of a consumer holiday as opposed to holding onto the true appreciation of the meaning behind the event. The capitalist ideologies, pushed by Western society has been fostering within the Caribbean leading to the depreciation of religious events.

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-Leah Elbourne & Hema Ramrattan


“The Caribbean Diet.” LIVESTRONG.COM. September 2, 2014. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://www.livestrong.com/article/271150-the-caribbean-diet/.

“Obesity and Fast Food.” News-Medical.net. March 31, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Obesity-and-Fast-Food.aspx.

“Caribbean Cultural Dances – Caribbean Dance Directory Listings.” Caribbean Dance Directory Listings. April 28, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://dancetnt.org/caribbean-art-culture-directory/caribbean-cultural-dance-styles/.

Curley, Robert. “Languages Spoken on Caribbean Islands.” About Travel. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://gocaribbean.about.com/od/caribbeantravelfaq/a/Caribbeanlanguages.htm.

“Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy – UWI.” Department of Language, Linguistics and Philosophy – UWI. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://www.mona.uwi.edu/dllp/linguistics/creole.htm.


“CSME.” Festivals In The Caribbean. Accessed March 8, 2015. http://www.caricom.org/jsp/community_organs/cohsod_culture/festivals.jsp?menu=cob.

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