Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean
Publication Year: 2012
During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In Creole Indigeneity, Shona N. Jackson investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies.
Looking particularly at the nation’s politically fraught decades from the 1950s to the present, Jackson explores aboriginal and Creole identities in Guyanese society. Through government documents, interviews, and political speeches, she reveals how Creoles, though unable to usurp the place of aboriginals as First Peoples in the New World, nonetheless managed to introduce a new, more socially viable definition of belonging, through labor. The very reason for bringing enslaved and indentured workers into Caribbean labor became the organizing principle for Creoles’ new identities.
Creoles linked true belonging, and so political and material right, to having performed modern labor on the land; labor thus became the basis for their subaltern, settler modes of indigeneity—a contradiction for belonging under postcoloniality that Jackson terms “Creole indigeneity.” In doing so, her work establishes a new and productive way of understanding the relationship between national power and identity in colonial, postcolonial, and anticolonial contexts.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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This work has its origins in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when,growing up in Guyana, I experienced something that has stayed with meever since. Every afternoon around four o’clock, sunlight would flood ourfamily’s living room, and our already hot house in South Ruimveldt becameunbearable, especially when the curtains were open. At the same time, what...
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Guyana extends vertically into South America. The bulk ofits inhabitants, Indians and blacks, live in or near the capital on theAtlantic coast. Much of its indigenous population is spread out on reserva-tions closest to the coast, such as the Moruca Reservation in the North-WestDistrict, down through the interior savannahs and forests to the southernborder with Brazil.1 In December 2006, a Cuban friend and I made the half-day...
1 Creole Indigeneity
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On the eve of the Haitian Revolution in 1791, most of thehalf-million enslaved peoples in the most profitable of all the Frenchcolonies had been brought directly from Africa. It is this character of the Hai-tian population that is often thought to have been fundamental in its abilityto turn a slave rebellion into an ultimately successful bid for liberation in1804. Just three years after Haiti became a free nation, Britain declared an end...
2 Labor for Being: Making Caliban Work
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Chapter 1 advanced a theoretical framework for under-standing Creole belonging that addressed both its materialist and ideal-ist underpinnings, thus laying the groundwork for the exploration in this andsubsequent chapters of the rescripting of indigeneity as a socio-discursiveand politico-economic phenomenon. That chapter identified critical argu-ments that represented Creole belonging in two dominant terms, both of...
3 "God's Golden City": Myth, Paradox, and the Propter Nos
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Chapter 2 centered on the Calibanesque tradition. It addressedappropriation of the figure of Caliban by anticolonial and postcolonialwriters who saw the discursive figure in terms of the conditions of speech forthe black subaltern inside the West who seeks voice within the politics of cul-tural decolonization and a struggle for sovereignty. The chapter argued thatthese writers and critics seized upon the labor Caliban performed for being...
4 From Myth to Market: Burnham's Co-operative Republic
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Chapter 3 sought to demonstrate the role myth plays inCaribbean modernity. It argued that the rearticulation in neo- andpostcolonial discourses of the myth of El Dorado, in particular, allows itsimagistic and ideological structures to continually inform modern, Carib -bean socioculture. The chapter ended by demonstrating how the myth is keptcurrent in postcolonial Guyana. This chapter returns to the myth’s role in...
5 The Baptism of Soil: Indian Belonging in Guyana
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Amid barely recorded protest by Indigenous Peoples in 1997,the Timehri International Airport in Guyana was renamed for the latepresident Cheddi B. Jagan, with support from the then–Minister of Amer -indian Affairs, Vibert DeSouza.1 DeSouza endorsed the renaming becauseof what he saw as gains for Amerindians under Peoples Progressive Party(PPP) leadership. As mentioned in chapter 4, Forbes Burnham’s administra-...
CONCLUSION: Beyond Caliban, or the "Third Space" of Labor and Indigeneity
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This book began by highlighting a disarticulation betweenthe modes of being and belonging of Indigenous Peoples and Creolesin the Caribbean that congeal around labor. Its principal argument was thatthe ways in which Creoles indigenized, or came to belong to the Caribbean,particularly after emancipation and during the anti- and postcolonial periods,have led to the material and discursive displacement of the region’s Indige-...
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This has been a long and difficult work, and I think that I can say, withouttoo much confusion, that the person who finished this book is not the onewho began it. Both thank the following people for reading portions of themanuscript: Koritha Mitchell, M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Nandini Bhattach -arya, Christopher M. Sutch (under duress), Charles Rowell, Paul Christen -...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2012