The Notion of Creolization: An Attempt at Theoretical Clarification


In this article, I hope to show how the general idea of “creolization” extends to some very different meanings, in spite of its apparent semantic consistency, often involving the ideas of intermixing and blending. Starting with a review of various texts which have given different interpretations of the term creolization, I shall identify four major fields of meaning. Those fields are defined by the way in which the authors envisage creolization in relation to two pairs of notions. The first pairing sets the cultural process against the cultural product, while the second concerns temporality, with creolization either seen as an “original” (or starting) phenomenon or as constantly moving (or becoming). The ideas which have been forged out of the perception of these pairings “divide up” knowledge of creolization across well-characterized regions, regions which this work will try to describe. In doing so, it will be a question of looking at the notion of diaspora that these different meanings involve. This article will conclude with some thoughts questioning the universality of the creolization phenomenon and suggesting that it remains dependent upon historical contexts.