An anthropological genetic perspective on creolization in the anglophone caribbean


Correspondence to: Jada Benn Torres, Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 619 Flanner, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. E-mail:


Variable socio-cultural influences developed in the colonial Caribbean as a result of competing European hegemonic rule. In this study, we examine how colonial regulations regarding social hierarchies and mate choice worked to influence the genetic landscape of contemporary African Caribbean populations. To this end, 420 individuals from Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Jamaica, and Trinidad were genotyped for 105 autosomal ancestry informative markers. Based on these data, population substructure and admixture were assessed using an exact test, a model-based clustering method, and principal components analysis. On average, individual admixture estimates of the pooled African Caribbean sample were 77% (SD ± 18%) West African, 15% (SD ± 15%) European, and 7.7% (SD ± 8%) Native American. In general, ancestry estimates were significantly different between Dominica and all other islands. Genetic structure analyses indicated subdivision into two subpopulations on most islands. Finally, unlike all of the other Caribbean populations that clustered adjacent to African populations, the Dominican population was more intermediate between the three parental groups in the principal components plot. As a result of the significant French influence throughout Dominican history, Dominica did not have the same cultural influences that typified other Anglophone colonies. Consequently, there were different social hierarchies and resulting mate choices on Dominica compared with the other considered islands. This study highlights the complex socio-cultural history of a broad region of the Caribbean and attests to the interplay between social and biological factors in shaping the genetic diversity present in present-day communities. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:135–143, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.