In this study I will present the key factors determining the social and cultural life of Afro-Curaçaoans during the first fifty years after the abolition of slavery in 1863. I will do so through a socio-cultural analysis of the social system of which they formed part. Their position within slave society will be the starting point, followed by an evaluation of the two principle elements of social control after emancipation: the State and the Roman Catholic Church. Rather than viewing Afro-Curaçaoans as mere objects to be acted upon, in this analysis I cite them as resilient agents, rising to - and often resisting in a variety of ways - the challenges and restrictions they faced in a free society. Their resilience and resistance are best demonstrated through the factors from which they drew their sustenance; these being mainly their social networks - such as families, peer groups, co-workers, local communities - and their culture, brought to the fore, for example, in their songs, stories and rituals
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