SHIBBOLETHS:
A JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE THEORY
AND CRITICISM

שבולת
ISSN 1993-0844
 

 

 

2.1 (DECEMBER 2007)


ESSAYS
 

 
Bernard Boxill

Pardue Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Faculty page
PhilWeb Page
 

"Derek Walcott's One Endeavour."  1-15.

Derek Walcott’s '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.

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Jeff Browitt

Senior lecturer and
Head of Latin American Studies, Institute for International Studies,
University of Technology, Sydney

Faculty Page

"Tropics of Tragedy: the Caribbean in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude."  16-33.

Gabriel García Márquez’s 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.

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Philip Nanton

Independent Scholar; formerly Project Officer, HIV/AIDS Response Programme,
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. 

nantonp@sunbeach.net

"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 discourses.

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Patricia Saunders

Assistant Professor, University of Miami

Faculty Page

psaunders@mail.as.miami.edu

"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.

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Nicola Hunte

Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill

nicolahunte@hotmail.com
 

"Notions of Myth, Gestures of Masquerade: Theatre of Memory in Derek Walcott’s Omeros and Toni Morrison’s Beloved."  58-69.

This discussion 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. 

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Pedro L. V. Welch

Senior Lecturer in History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education,
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill

Faculty Page
 

"Reconceptualising Caribbean Slavery: Imagining the Urban Context."  70-84.

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.

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