The Divisions that Bind

Thinking Through Race in Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Authored by: Jean Antoine-Dunne

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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It is impossible to understand the dynamics of Caribbean culture without referring to race. Literature in the anglophone Caribbean has always been associated with analyzing and addressing what a theorist such as Sylvia Wynter has called the ‘dehumanization’ (1995) that accompanied enslavement, and the resultant internalization of the stereotypes that it engendered. Writers have sought to reverse the idea of white superiority transmitted in part through literature and visual forms (Emery 2007). ‘Race’ in the Caribbean is, however, more than phenotype (Alleyne 1988: 80), and includes a hierarchy of colour inflection born of the problematic of miscegenation and the complex history of power and land ownership. In addition, indentureship bred divisions between Indians and Africans (Reddock 2002) that further exacerbated racialized divisions that have fed into politics, economic and social relations and account, in part, for the deeply politicized nature of Caribbean writing. Race has been linked to political power brokerage where party allegiances are nurtured through appeals to specific groupings within Caribbean societies. This is evident in a work such as Lakshmi Persaud’s For the Love of My Name (2000), set on the fictional island of Maya, which indicates the ways in which the politics of independence were played out as a game of power that pitted Indo-Caribbean against Afro-Caribbean.

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