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Beyond Créolité and Coolitude, the Indian on the Plantation Re-creolization in the Transoceanic Frame

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-193
JournalMiddle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies
Volume4
Issue number2
Early online date27 Dec 2020
DOIs
Accepted/In press27 Dec 2020
E-pub ahead of print27 Dec 2020
Published27 Dec 2020

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Abstract

This essay explores the ways in which Caribbean artists of Indian heritage memorialize the transformation of Caribbean history, demography, and lifeways through the arrival of their ancestors, and their transformation, in turn, by this new space. Identifying for this purpose an iconic figure that I term “the Indian on the Plantation,” I demonstrate how the influential theories of Caribbean identity-formation that serve as useful starting points for explicating the play of memory and identity that shapes Indo-Caribbean artistic praxis—coolitude (as coined by Mauritian author Khal Torabully) and créolité (as most influentially articulated by the Martinican trio of Jean Barnabé, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphaël Confiant)—are nevertheless constrained by certain discursive limitations. Unpacking these limitations, I offer instead evidence from curatorial and quotidian realms in Guadeloupe as a lens through which to assess an emergent artistic practice that cuts across Francophone and Anglophone constituencies to occupy the Caribbean Plantation while privileging signifiers of an Indic heritage. Reading these attempts as examples of decreolization that actually suggest an ongoing and unpredictable recreolization of culture, I situate this apparent paradox within a transoceanic heuristic frame that brings the Indian and Atlantic Ocean worlds into dialogue to revivify our understanding of creolization as a theory and process of cultural change.

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