Reading History, Performing Carib: The Santa Rosa Festival and Amerindian Identity in Trinidad
Abstract

In most social science discourse on the Caribbean, there seems to be a consensus that pre-colonial indigenous culture has been absent or severely diminished. The myth of the total decimation of Amerindians in Trinidad has been countered by the organization and revival of a group called the Santa Rosa Carib Community (or SRCC), located in the central town of Arima. Without any attempts to claim racial purity, the SRCC have utilized the existing community cultural and ethnic paradigms to re-imagine an indigenous Amerindian identity. The Santa Rosa Festival, produced jointly by the Santa Rosa Carib Community (SRCC) and the Santa Rosa Catholic Church, is held in honor of the former mission's patron saint, St. Rose of Lima, the first saint of the New World. Parang, a Venezuelan-influenced string band music, is a central part of festival performances. Performed by members of the SRCC and other members of the community, parang is re-appropriated as an Amerindian music within the context of the festival, and considered a common cultural thread. In this paper, I will discuss the polemics of performing parang in the Santa Rosa Festival as a dialectical means to engage a renewed sense of Amerindian identity in Trinidad today.


pdf