gender roles and traditions in Martinique

Anthropology: Gender Roles, Culture, and Society of the People of Martinique

Introduction to Martinique

At the start of the New World Expedition, Native Americans from Cuba and Hispaniola told Christopher Columbus about the small island they named Martinino. Columbus, who arrived on the island in 1502, baptized Martinique. The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean called it Madiana or Madinina (“Island of Flowers”), a name still used informally in songs and poetry. However, the Caribbean Indians of Martinique were uprooted by the French in the 17th century, and Martinique’s history and culture were then the results of the creation of French colonization and African slavery. The Martinican is of French nationality.


Located on the Lesser Antilles of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean Sea, with Dominica to the north and Saint Lucia to the south, Martinique covers an area of 31 square miles (1,120 square kilometers). It is a tropical island with many volcanic origins. The explosion of Mount Pelee in 1902 destroyed the great city of Saint-Pierre and moved the capital to Fort-de-France.

Language links

French is the official language used in administrative systems. However, the native language spoken in the most familiar and informal setting is Creole. Creole, which is primarily French (African, American, and English dialects), is particularly expressive and idiomatic, using a relatively simple grammatical structure. Creole was originally developed because African slaves needed to communicate with each other and understand the orders of the French master.

Due to the lack of local Creole documentation, many Martinicas have denied that Creole is a language. The ever-increasing influence of French culture is gradually assimilating Creole into itself. Standard French is widely spoken, but with a characteristic French Antillean accent.

Symbolic identity

Culture of Martinique
by Wikipedia

The island is also known as IIe aux Fleurs by the locals. The other is the Land of the Witnesses (“the land where one or the other returns”), which evokes its magical charm. The Gomie (wooden fishing boat) represents a society surrounded by the sea, and the Bakoua (the large conical hat woven from the wild pineapple tree) represents the first great peasant culture. Colibri (Colibri) is a mascot of the island.
Modern relevance

Women’s colorful striped dress (Madras) with a knotted handkerchief depicting a sloppy West Indian woman from the past. Above all, the sensual variety of music and dance is clearly Martinican. Poets and writers use mangroves as a metaphor for Martinique.
Recently, this symbol was used to commemorate the liberation from slavery. Initially, the abolition of slavery was awarded only to Victor Scheurcher, the “Abraham Lincoln” of the French colony. \

For the past two decades, Martinique nationalists have campaigned to emphasize the role of slavery and fugitive rebellion in effective liberation. The combination of the identities of Martinique in France and the Caribbean has created a complex political symbol celebrating Bastille Day in France and Martinique’s abolition of Martinique.
Mettisage, Négritude (black consciousness), Antilles (Antilles), Creole (multiculturalism fused with Caribbean accents). Doudouism, the image of a paradise on a tropical island with a French accent that mixes romance and malaise, is often considered a cheesy stereotype.

The history and culture of the people of Martinique

Slavery monuments in Martinique
by Britannica

The existence of the “state” of Martinique is controversial. After the complete abolition of slavery in France, which occurred in 1848 (pre-French revolutionary liberation was abolished by Napoleon), the dominant colonial policy was assimilated: for all who lived under the French regime, education, French, full expansion of citizenship. National flag. This policy culminated in 19 6 and the Paris National Assembly decided to make Martinique an overseas department in France, at the initiative of the representatives of residents (in particular the vice-president Aimé Césaire). Martinicano, a full French citizen, is a member of the European Community.

Ethnic relations

Beak, the white descendant of the first French settlers, has long been a local elite, generating varying degrees of envy and resentment. Remaining racial preferences among non-whites (lighter skin preferred over darker skin) still suggest marriage and other social choices. Metro (short for metropolitan, white in France) is considered pagan by all Martinicans. The metro often occupies a conspicuous position in government, civil service, and education and is frequently opposed by local nationalists. Marriage between Martinikan and a big city is quite common.

Social structure

Universal suffrage and segmentation (i.e. states) shifted Beke’s power from politics to economics almost exclusively. The mulatto (blend) retains a social advantage over those who are direct descendants of African descent.
Clothing, the urban outlook, white-collar jobs, and car ownership are all signs of social progress. However, the direct features of upper-class status other than skin color were the use of French rather than Creole and a larger city accent rather than a West Indian accent.

Relative gender roles

The macho, an ancient tradition of West Indian society, is still pervasive in Martinican society. A woman who is the breadwinner of the family has a long history of motherhood and has been heavily subsidized by the government’s Family Allowance Fund since 1975. Women have power and influence in the private sector, but in the more public sphere, very few women (with a few exceptions in education and culture) have high power positions. Contraceptives triggered a “birth revolution” that increased the birth rate of nearly six children in the 1950s to just over two in the 1990s.

Since the 1980s, more than half of Martinique women have entered the labor market, where they are represented disproportionately. They are employees of the service department who are employed as domestic workers, clerks, and teachers. Women in Martinique are three times more underemployed and unemployed than men. One-fifth of women have a middle-class economic status.

Despite the shift between the youth and the middle class, the combination of numerous single women in the economy that puts pressure on marriage puts wives in a vulnerable position. At home, they are often exposed to masculine attitudes and behaviors. Fear of her husband abandoning them or marrying a mistress.

Communities, families, and relatives

gender roles in Martinique
by trip down memory lane / blogger

As a rule, Martinique couples marry by mutual agreement based on love. Especially in village societies, this often follows the period of cohabitation before marriage and often the period of pregnancy. Families often exert subtle pressure to dissuade children from being “married” or at least not “married” given their class, especially race as measured by skin color.

Strong pressure is exerted within the Béké community to maintain intrinsic family ties. Legal proceedings for marriage and divorce are in French. An ordinary marriage declaration (concubine) can be made at the town hall. About 2000 marriages are celebrated each year in Martinique. 300 to 00 divorce cases are processed. In fact, more than one-third of Martinicans of the right age (18 for men and 15 for women) are married.

Household units

The Martinique family has developed somewhere between the nuclear family and the extended family. Couples live with their children without the benefits of a formal marriage, and close relatives often help with their children. About one-third of single mothers are earners and rely on their parents for childcare and household chores. However, when a man marries his mistress, the feminist challenge has long been a practice in Martinican society.


Successions are subject to French law. In reality, the prevalence of “illegal” heirs is high, and the division of land and property after death can lead to lengthy proceedings and proceedings.

Education and upbringing of children

Parenting is very strict and often involves corporal punishment. In families with a father, it is usually the father who has the power. Martinique benefits from childcare facilities and a highly developed school system like the one in France.
Higher education. Even before the founding of the University of Western France, Scheurcher’s French Guiana, who had attended university in France, was the aim of the Martinicans’ rise. Colleges and professional degrees represent a high position in the community. Higher education and vocational training abroad (especially in France) in the eyes of locals are more than comparable educational experiences in Martinique.

Etiquette and social values

Social distancing and formality characterize most interactions between foreigners in Martinique. Language is the primary means of establishing and maintaining social distance. Creole is a common language, but it is much more polite to communicate with the other person in French, at least until a sufficiently close relationship is established.

It may be considered rude to start a conversation in a Creole public space (government, store, etc.). If a person can speak French, speaking with a foreigner in Creole means recognizing him as socially inferior. It is also essential to adhere to French etiquette standards (such as using a second person officially than you). Shaking hands is part of local etiquette.

Informal exchanges require more intimate social exchanges. These include two (and even three and four) cheek kisses, even between homosexual members. The double cheek kiss has a similar frequency to the French courtship kiss but in a typical West Indian style. There is more and slower head-turning movement due to more vertical contact on the cheek.

social structure in Martinique
by Kreole magazine

Religious beliefs

Since the founding of France, Roman Catholicism has dominated. In recent years, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelical Protestantism (for example, Adventism) has strengthened. The Baha’i faith, Judaism, and Islam also have their own cultural and religious sites. During and after slavery, along with Christianity, there was a parallel system of beliefs and practices known as the Quinboa. Quimbois are deeply rooted in popular culture, including botanical and herbal remedies, witchcraft, and spiritual healing.

A 19th-century version of Hinduism brought to the West Indies by immigrants from South India still exists in temples and shrines, where burning incense, crowns of statues and sacrificial offerings still exist. Hindus and Quimboise generally consider themselves Catholic, but local Rastafarians (a sect born in Jamaica and worshiped the late Emperor Haile Selassie) have more honestly separated themselves from Western religions.

Rites and temples

In addition to the regularly celebrated Catholic holidays (Christmas, Easter, All Saints, etc.), each city (county) organizes an annual festival under the name of Holy Mass or Catholic Feast. Annual local Catholic pilgrimages include the Sacred Heart in Balata, the Via Crucis in Mont Vauclin, Notre Dame Sallet in Sainte Anne, and Saint Michel in François. Notre Dame de la Derivlande is the patron saint of the island and a pilgrimage to Morneau Rouge in commemoration of the rescue of Martinique’s first bishop from the tropical cyclones of the Atlantic Ocean in 1851.

Many Martinicans participate in the miraculous medallion cult of St. Catherine Labourée in Paris. In recent years, Hindu apples have been revived every year. The death announcement was a regular part of the official daily radio show. Funerals have always followed Roman Catholic custom, especially in villages, including a public funeral process in which men wear black suits, white shirts, and uniform black ties. On November 2, the day after All Saints’ Day, you can see the Day of the Dead, where people gather in the cemetery to light candles after dark.

Arts; graphic arts, literature, and performance arts

performance arts in Martinique
Carnaval tropical de Paris 2014 – Ou za konèt (Martinique)

Martinique has a very rich artistic infrastructure. Regional infrastructures (FRAC regional fund for contemporary art). Cultural Action Service of the City of Fort de France; a combination of countries and sectors (CMAC Cultural Action Center in Martinique). Festivals, competitions, and awards for artists and musicians, concerts and acquisitions by organizations that support all genres of art.

Literature of Martinique

Explorers and missionaries (Father Rabat is the most famous) brought Martinique to the world in the 17th century. A rich indigenous oral literature, best represented in the folk tale of the cunning bunny Rabbit, developed during slavery and the post-slavery era. In the publication of Back to My Homeland (1939), Aimé Césaire explains to the rest of the world negativity (the black African conscience and its Caribbean diaspora). Edouard Glissant (Le Lézard; West Indian Speech) follows this genre.

Psychiatrist Frantz Fanon provided an in-depth analysis of the psychology of the Indians of western France in a black and white mask (1952). Notable contemporary Martinique writers include Patrick Chamoiseau (the novel Texaco won the Prix Goncourt) and Raphaël Confienne (black and admiral).

Graphic arts in Martinique

The most important graphic movement was the Black Caribbean School in the 1970s, which was inspired by studying abroad in Africa after studying in France. And since the 1980s, Fromajé has been immersed in the island’s ancestral heritage. The annual art event is the CMAC exhibition of paintings, sculptures, pastels, and watercolors. SERMAC’s Fort-de-France Festival; an exhibition by Martinique’s Association of Young Artists (ADJAM) and Martinique’s Association of Visual Artists (AMPC).

FRAC welcomes artists to their place of residence and degree training is provided by the Martinique Regional Academy of Visual Arts (ERAPM). The legacy of Indian culture in the Caribbean, which survived with colonial basket weaving and handmade pottery, continues, but Trois Ilets pottery has been modernized.

Modern and traditional performance arts

Thanks to bands like Kassav and Compagnie Créole, Martinique is famous for its music all over the world. Zuke largely replaced the former Big Inn, but the Malavoy Group retained their traditional instrumental style. A particular style of drum is the gwo ka. The theater flourished, notably at the Municipal Theater and the Regional Theater Center. The Grand Ballet de la Martinique preserves the popular heritage of the island, mainly for tourists.


Martinique is a craggy Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles. Being a French diaspora, its culture reflects a unique blend of French and Caribbean influences. Its largest city, Fort-de France, has steep hills, narrow streets, and a Russian Garden surrounded by shops and cafes. In the garden is a statue of Joséphine de Beauharnais of the island, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The majority of Martinique’s population is the descendants of African slaves, whether from the Caribbean or Carinago, who were brought to work on sugar cane plantations during the colonial era. Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Martinique is known for its high living standards.

A relatively small number of nationalist groups demanded sheer independence of the island. Rather, most preferred autonomy within the French Republic. Most Martinicans did not want to break their political ties with the French people while maintaining the cultural identity of the French Antilles through Creole language, music, cuisine, and good manners.
Martinique has acted as a convenient tourist destination for the French population for a long time. It continues to attract travelers from both the upper class as well as the middle budget class.

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