Degree Year

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Comparative Literature

Committee Member(s)

Anthony Stocks, Chair
Médoune Gueye
James Millette

Keywords

Caribbean literature, Aime Cesaire, Derek Walcott, Hip Hop, Language, Identity, Resistance, Counter-hegemony, Franz Fanon

Abstract

I ask the question: is it possible to posit a Return that is historically informed by the disjunctive, fractured narratives of the Caribbean, one which both challenges and negotiates what Spivak has termed the neo-colonial "structures of violence?" Likewise, can the Caribbean subject articulate a space for communal identity, self-representation, and historical agency, in opposition to the disempowering dissection of the (neo-)colonizing gaze? I would argue that such a discursive project is possible, indeed necessary, in order to continue developing the insurgent narrative of resistance to colonialism that traces its roots back to the arrival of the first white colonizers in the islands. For it is important to remember that although we are discussing these questions of identity and agency at the level of language and culture, they cannot simply be viewed allegorically, somehow divorced from political systems of domination. Ultimately, the question is one of political power, a struggle against neo-colonial hegemony and oppression.

The two works I have chosen to study in this thesis as a means of answering these questions highlight the tremendous diversity of literary production in the Caribbean, while also exhibiting many examples of the recurring patterns and linkages that form the noisy networks of the Caribbean meta-archipelago. The criteria for selection can only be described as arbitrary at best, as there is so much to choose from. I have managed to include works by two major (meaning better-known) authors from two of the major linguistic traditions: the Martinician Aimé Césaire, and the St. Lucian Derek Walcott. Both works deal in some way with questions of Caribbean identity, and both are written from a strongly anti- colonialist framework. I would not consider these works representative of any particular literature, although they do share certain relations. Most of all, I simply view them as particular points of entry into the tangled web of signals that constitutes Caribbean cultural production.

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