In This Chapter

Black Radical Thought

Authored by: Eldon V. Birthwright

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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The emergence of a black radical intellectual tradition, situated within, and alongside existentialist thought has transfigured the agendas of anglophone Caribbean writing and other cultural forms. The practices, narratives, movements and the all-encompassing human attempts of the black populations of the Caribbean to challenge racial and colonial oppression, have been central to the project of reclaiming their humanity (Bogues 1998). This tradition contests the deformed consciousness imposed by colonialism and other forces of oppression and is also part of what Robert Birt calls ‘the larger project of the emancipatory struggle for authentic self-consciousness, for liberation from rigid identities and enslaving restrictions – a struggle for humanity against thingification’ (1997: 210). Creative writers have imaginatively engaged in the conceptualization of the ongoing emancipation struggle by proposing new definitions of self and, importantly, new definitions of the possibilities of the collective Caribbean nation-self. Erna Brodber’s notion (invoking Lloyd Best) of ‘re-engineering blackspace’ represents one’s development of a philosophy of creeds, myths and ideologies on which to hang social and spiritual life and within which blackness can be redefined (Brodber 1997: 73).

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