First Advisor

Candice Goucher

Term of Graduation

Spring 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Blacks -- Tobago -- Religion, Tobago -- Religious life and customs, Slavery -- Tobago



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 190 pages)


This thesis examines African religion as a form of cultural resistance to slavery in pre-emancipation Tobago. African religion was a tool of resistance to enslavement and oppression in pre-emancipation colonial Tobago. African religion acted as a source of empowerment, cohesion, and identity at a time when the colonial authorities in Tobago were attempting to strip the African of his/her Culture. This research examines the social dimensions of this struggle for religious/cultural supremacy between master and the enslaved African.

The purpose of this study is to show that the colonial authorities in Tobago, in order to sustain their basic economy had to "break" the Africans in order to make them obedient slaves who would ensure orderly production. Through indoctrination and physical bondage the "instruction of containment" was created by the colonial authorities. It was through that acculturation process that the master would bring about the total acceptance of the slave status by the enslaved African in Tobago. This process never fully occurred because the African resisted the process of acculturation through the dynamic process of religious adaptation syncretism and survival. The preservation of African religion was essential to the physical and psychological resistance to slavery. Most historians have considered Tobago's military and/or economic experience as central to understanding the past. The author advances the position that the social dimensions of African religion in Tobago served as a form of cultural resistance to slavery.


In Copyright. URI:

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Persistent Identifier