CAPE CARIBBEAN STUDIES
CARIBBEAN IDENTITY: Myth or Reality
We realize that as with defining the Caribbean and the myriad problems it posed, thus, leading us to a definition consistent with that of the emerging concept of a "Wider Caribbean" - which serves a socio-economic and political agenda - we are also presented with a dilemma when we try to assert the existence of a Caribbean identity: whose identity is being overted and, consequentially, whose identity is being subverted in popular consciousness and debate.
If we recall the various "ethnicities" that map our individual and group identities we then realize that, as Jennifer Mohammed asserts in her seminal work CAPE Caribbean Studies 2007, "To speak of a Caribbean identity against this background of diversity is an extremely complex undertaking, and some say that it may even be a figment of the imagination.
At the same time, there is an equally strong view that although the Caribbean is a region of marked diversity, there is much that is in common, leading to the existence of a 'culture sphere'." (p.17) Here, J. Mohammed makes reference to the ongoing polemic on "Caribbeanness" which has drawn into its polarizing posits the contributions of eminent scholars such as Stuart Hall, Sidney Mintz and the noted Caribbean poet Michelle Cliff (who all argue for the existence of that core Caribbean identity) versus others such as R. Premdas who staunchly argue against the existence of this myth.
How do we then reconcile the need for this undertaking? Why do we engage in this seemingly daunting task? With engaging the discourse, again one notes that its function is to necessarily facilitate a political as well as socio-economic agenda.
Within the region identity is at once cohesive and divisive: it creates the construction of an 'us' and a 'them'. A social construction with dire socio-political consequences as noted with the Afro - Indo tensions in some Caribbean territories or the more historical...
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