Creoles: Definition & Cultures

Instructor: Matthew Helmer

Matt is an upcoming Ph.D. graduate and archaeologist. He has taught Anthropology, Geography, and Art History at the university level.

Creole peoples are a crucial part of the history of the New World. In this lesson, I review creole origins, the various definitions of the term, and the continuing legacy of creole cultures today.

The Roots of Creole Cultures

The history of today's multi-ethnic world is inextricably linked to the colonial history of inter-mixing, known as creolization. In fact, the roots of globalization may have actually begun with the creolization of the Americas. Those of us from the United States are probably most familiar with the term creole from the vibrant food, music, and culture around New Orleans. Yet, creole cultures extend far wider, from the Caribbean and Latin America to West Africa. Creole cultures derived from different mixes of French, Spanish, and Portuguese colonizers with West African and Native American subjugated peoples. Creoles created completely new cultural practices over this massive area on a relatively small timescale, between colonization of the Americas in the 16th century and the thriving creole cultures we see today.

Creole: One Term, Many Cultures

Santeria shrine
Santeria shrine
syncretic religions

Simon Bolivar
Simon Bolivar
Simon BolivarHaiti

Creoles Today

Mardi Gras Indians
Mardi Gras Indians

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