S. Torres-Saillant's An Intellectual History of the Caribbean PDF

By S. Torres-Saillant

This is first highbrow historical past of the Caribbean written by means of a most sensible Caribbean stories pupil. The ebook examines either the paintings of natives of the quarter in addition to texts interpretive of the quarter produced through Western authors. Stressing the experimental and cultural particularity of the Caribbean, the research considers significant questions within the field.

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In so doing, they guarantee the vitality of “the French Caribbean musical village,” which, inseparable as it is from “its communal and popular cultural contexts,” corresponds to the very survival of the community since, as the author posits through a quote from J. H. Kwabena Nketia: “A village that has no organized music or neglects community singing, drumming, or dancing is said to be dead” (238). None of the scholars, writers, or performers thus far cited, however, would venture to specify with precision in exactly what way musical expression intervenes in society to deploy its liberatory, empowering, resistive, and revolutionary potential for the discernible benefit of the people of the Caribbean.

Elsewhere in England and much later in time, namely London in the mid-twentieth century, people from the British Caribbean made up an ethnic enclave so aware of its cultural apartness that Samuel Selvon could venture to imagine them as part of an insulated urban cosmos in The Lonely Londoners (1956). In short, a vast and growing diaspora has widened the cultural geography of the Caribbean to encompass key sites in Europe, the United States, and Latin America. To fathom the Caribbean, then, one has to train one’s eyes on three primary spaces: the insular, the continental, and the diasporic, and none today can be dispensed with in a serious attempt to understand holistically the cluster of societies involved.

The impact of sugar production, introduced by the Arabs upon conquering the Mediterranean basin (Sicily, Cyprus, Malta, Rhodes, Maghrib, and Spain) beginning in 711 and spreading by 996 had unleashed less traumatic dynamics there. While the sugar plantation wrought its havoc on the lives of the natives of Spain and Portugal’s Atlantic islands (Madeira, the Canaries, and Sâo Tome) from the 1450s onward, only when it reached the Caribbean did it become a force that fueled world wars, mobilized millions of people across vast oceans, and reconfigured the balance of power on the planet (Mintz 1986:23–24).

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