Volume 2 (2007-2008):
(Re)Thinking Caribbean Culture
2.1 (DECEMBER 2007)
Pardue Professor of Philosophy, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill
"Derek Walcott's One Endeavour." 1-15.
'dividedness' is often mentioned by both critics and admirers and
sometimes by himself. This essay tries to say what it is.
It is a condition peculiar to artists who in their youth were moved
by two different and powerful artistic traditions. For
Walcott, these two traditions were represented on the one hand by
English poets and, on the other hand, by the 'derelicts' and 'small
people' of St. Lucia who used themselves as works of art to express
their emotions. His choice to make exalting these 'small
people' his one endeavour was not determined by his being a St.
Lucian, but was entirely free, though made for good reasons.
Senior lecturer and
Head of Latin
Institute for International Studies,
University of Technology, Sydney
"Tropics of Tragedy: the Caribbean in Gabriel
One Hundred Years of Solitude." 16-33.
celebrated novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, belongs to a
virtual sub-genre of Spanish Caribbean narratives of failure in the
quest for community framed within fatalistic and tragic structures.
The novel follows the fortunes of the Buendía
family and the mythical community of Macondo through the town’s
foundation, consolidation and eventual decline into apocalyptic
destruction. The novel has frequently been interpreted as an
allegory of Colombian or even Latin American national failure and
the underlying 'message' that issues from the novel is that peoples
who are unable to develop a historical consciousness (understand
their trajectory in history) are fated to perish. This essay
challenges this myth and its perpetuation by many prominent Latin
American literary critics.
Independent Scholar; formerly Project Officer,
HIV/AIDS Response Programme,
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.
"The Impact of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic on the Development of
the Discourse of Caribbean Sexuality." 34-42.
The paper examines the ways in which the discourse on sexuality in
the Caribbean comes to terms with the HIV and AIDS epidemic. For a
considerable time the epidemic was not a major feature of attention.
In Barbados, a regional island country I use as a case study, this was
changed by a watershed period between 1995 and 2000. Thereafter, I
present a case study of Barbados to suggest that the response to HIV and
AIDS in that country is increasingly divided between formal and informal
Professor, University of Miami
"Those Who Insist on Be(come)ing: Caribbean Subjects and the
Task of Translating Identity." 43-57.
In this essay, I appropriate Ronald Judy's term '(dis)forming' in
order to construct a paradigm for re-thinking cultural identity in a
Caribbean context. For Judy, '(dis)forming' is an intellectual
project aimed at disrupting the "integrity of the dominant discourse
of American cultural history" (1) by "articulating the multifarious
possibilities of expression that constitute the legacy of the New
World" (1). My engagement with this term, while similar to
Judy's, focuses on another aspect of '(dis)forming,' one aimed at
examining the implications of canonized epistemes and their impact
on the nature of Being for peoples in the New World. This concept,
therefore, offers two significant critical interventions into
contemporary debates about Caribbean culture. Firstly, '(dis)formation'
offers interpretative strategies for unpacking the processes through
which discursive formations have historically served as a means of
inhibiting critical considerations about the nature of Being for
colonial subjects in the New World. Secondly, this essay is an
effort to map and translate the imaginative terrain in which
contemporary narratives of African diaspora identities are
situated. More specifically, I consider the function of the
imagination for black subjects attempting to make their
being-in-the-world intelligible in the face of hundreds of years of
scientific research that categorized blacks as 'non-human' beings.
This essay examines how the processes of (dis)forming in works of
fiction, such as Erna Brodber's Louisiana, provide another lens for
reading colonial discourses on race and subject formation.
These imaginative fictions, when read (or misread, to borrow Spivak's concept) against the grain of these traditions lay bare the
extent to which scientific discourses have shaped social
constructions of race to effectively foreclose the possibility of
Becoming for colonial subjects.
Lecturer, University of the West Indies,
"Notions of Myth, Gestures of Masquerade: Theatre of Memory in Derek
Walcott’s Omeros and Toni Morrison’s Beloved."
examines the relevance of Wilson Harris’s conceptualization of myth
and masquerade as cross-cultural gestures of redress in the face of
what Harris terms ‘conquistadorial habit’. ‘Conquistadorial habit’
in Harris’s critical essays refers to patterns of exploitative,
homogenizing behaviour consistent with activities of conquest that
resonate significantly with the practice and effects of colonialism
and slavery. The focus of this paper is on the manner in which myth
and masquerade function as cultural articulation of and response to
these patterns. The presence of these carnivalesque features in
literary texts that engage with plantation slavery and/ or the
Middle Passage contributes to the notion of recovery in the face of
the historical / cultural loss associated with the descendants of
the New World captives.
Pedro L. V. Welch
Senior Lecturer in History and Dean of the
Faculty of Humanities and Education,
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill
"Reconceptualising Caribbean Slavery: Imagining the Urban
My paper seeks to
highlight the tendency of some Caribbean historians to negate the
special characteristics of the urban context of slave society.
It also examines some of those characteristics in an effort to
establish the need for a (re)thinking of our notions of the
Caribbean institution of slavery. Such a refocusing of
attention might force a re-drawing of the mental pictures of slave
life which still continue to hamper fuller appreciation of the ways
in which the enslaved were reading the ‘room-to-manoeuvre’ options
of their existence.