Cultural Erasure

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Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 79, octubre de 2005 |


Identity and Erasure: Finding the Elusive Caribbean
Anton Allahar

– Caribbean Autobiography: cultural identity and self-representation, by Sandra Pouchet Paquet. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002. – Decolonising the Caribbean: Dutch policies in a comparative perspective, by Gert Oostindie and Inge Klinkers. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2003.

– Ah Come Back Home: Perspectives on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, edited by Ian I. Smart, and Kimani S. K. Nehusi. Washington: Original World Press, 2000.
The Caribbean can be many things to many people: a geographic region somewhere in America’s backyard, an English-speaking outpost of the British Empire, an exciting holiday destination for North Americans and Europeans, a place where dirty money is easily laundered, and even an undefined, exotic area that contains the dreaded Bermuda Triangle, the mythical lost city of El Dorado, the fabled Fountain of Youth and the island home of Robinson Crusoe. Enriched by the process of creolization, the cosmopolitanism of the average Caribbean person is also well recognized: ‘No Indian from India, no European, no African can adjust with greater ease and naturalness to new situations’ (Lamming 1960, 34). As a concept or notion ‘the Caribbean’ can also be seen to have a marvellous elasticity that defies the imposition of clear geographic boundaries, has no distinct religious tradition, no agreed-upon set of political values, and no single cultural orientation. What, then, is the Caribbean? Who can justifiably claim to belong to it? Of the various peoples who have come to comprise the region, whose identity markers will be most central in defining the whole? For not all citizens of a nation or a region will be equally privileged and not all will have equal input in the definition of national or regional identity. In other words, because power implies a process...
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