Culture of Montserrat
Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean region that has become a subject of study due to its unique geographical features. Montserrat is in an area of rigorous volcanic activities, and numerous volcanic hills characterize the country. The southern part of the island has registered adverse effects of the volcanic activities. Many scholars have studied the culture of Montserrat due to the level of influence from other countries. Particularly, Montserrat shares numerous cultural aspects with Ireland. Many of the people living on the island just found themselves in Montserrat because of different circumstances. The earliest individuals to occupy the island were slaves brought to the region against their will (Fergus 34). For this reason, they embraced the Irish culture over the years. Currently, Montserrat seeks to develop a unique culture that will govern its identity. The country is yet to register full independence from Great Britain. It may be impossible for Montserrat to have a unique identity as long as it remains as part of the Great Britain. This paper will give attention to different cultural aspects of Montserrat.
As mentioned above, residents of Montserrat are the descendants of slaves forced to live in the region against their will. The first occupants of the island came into Montserrat in the sixteenth century. Many of the slaves were under the control of Great Britain. Particularly, Ireland has the greatest influence on Montserrat since the sixteenth century. For this reason, the Irish, as well as the African influences from the original culture of the slaves, define Montserrat’s culture (Greenaway 67). The combination of these influences had led to a unique culture exhibited by the people. Natural forces have also had a remarkable effect on the culture of Montserrat. Particularly, the physical features of the country determine the diet, shelter, as well as the type of clothing selected by the people.
The original occupants of the Island survived through cultivation and fishing. There is limited knowledge concerning the history of Montserrat. Many of the cultural symbols in Montserrat represent the Irish influence on the country. The national emblem of Montserrat depicts some of the important cultural concepts that define the people’s value systems, codes of etiquette, as well as diet. The emblem has a flag and a woman with a cross and harp. There is considerable interest in different musical styles as exhibited by the people living on the Island (Skinner 26). Agriculture used to be an integral part of the Montserratian culture. However, the people have embraced tourism in the recent past as the island seeks to depict a realistic picture of Caribbean classic aspects. Montserrat ventured into residential tourism, explaining why there are different races of people living in the coastal regions.
Montserrat has unique aesthetics brought about by the unique physical features. The volcanic activity in Montserrat has led to the development of unique sites that have inspired many artists in the country. The healthy tropical climate is an additional aspect of the country’s aesthetics. However, the mountainous terrains in the island, as well as the ecological necessities evident in the country, have led to limited infrastructure. There is a high level of underdevelopment due to slower population growth as well as unfavorable terrain. Montserrat has developed unique cultural values that regard the family unit highly (Fergus 38). The society considers the household as the most dominant domestic unit that provides a platform for bringing up children. Education has become an aspect of emphasis in determining the people’s values. The dominant religions in the country include Catholics and Anglicans, explaining why religious beliefs have fostered the development of high moral standards in the country.
Montserrat’s customs include the celebrations of secular events such as St. Patrick’s Day that recognizes the efforts of freedom fighters in the eighteenth century. Other customs include marriage rites that define the legitimacy of children. Gender roles are still evident in the society, but are highly dependent on the social class. There is an increased level of social stratification in Montserrat. The upper class defines people who own and manage estates, professionals, as well as expatriates (Skinner 29). Many of the upper-class people are whites. On the other hand, civil servants and salaried employees define the middle class while the lower class of the society refers to the poor blacks. English is the main language used by the people in Montserrat. In the recent past, the society has given attention to the need for higher education opportunities as a way of registering social and economic growth (Greenaway 71). Well-educated people belong to the middle and upper classes explaining why there is a need for increased opportunities for education. Currently, the country has a representative government with a ministerial system that seeks to address the prominent social problems.
- Fergus, Howard A. Montserrat in the Twentieth Century: Trials and Triumphs. Manjack, Montserrat: Univ. of the West Indies, School of Continuing Studies, 2000. Print.
- Greenaway, Sharmen. Montserrat in England: Dynamics of Culture. Bloomington: iUniverse, 2011. Print.
- Skinner, Jonathan. Before the Volcano: Reverberations of Identity on Montserrat. Kingston, Jamaica: Arawak, 2004. Print.