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Creolization as Cultural Creativity

Robert Baron

Publication Year: 2011

Global in scope and multidisciplinary in approach, Creolization as Cultural Creativity explores the expressive forms and performances that come into being when cultures encounter one another. Creolization is presented as a powerful marker of identity in the postcolonial creole societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southwest Indian Ocean region, as well as a universal process that can occur anywhere cultures come into contact.

An extraordinary number of cultures from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the southern United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Réunion, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Suriname, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone are discussed in these essays.

Drawing from the disciplines of folklore, anthropology, ethnomusicology, literary studies, history, and material culture studies, essayists address theoretical dimensions of creolization and present in-depth field studies. Topics include adaptations of the Gombe drum over the course of its migration from Jamaica to West Africa; uses of "ritual piracy" involved in the appropriation of Catholic symbols by Puerto Rican brujos; the subversion of official culture and authority through playful and combative use of "creole talk" in Argentine literature and verbal arts; the mislabeling and trivialization ("toy blindness") of objects appropriated by African Americans in the American South; the strategic use of creole techniques among storytellers within the islands of the Indian Ocean; and the creolized character of New Orleans and its music. In the introductory essay the editors address both local and universal dimensions of creolization and argue for the centrality of its expressive manifestations for creolization scholarship.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

Creolization is never-ending. For the editors, an Argentine criolla with Andalusian and Moravian ancestors and a New York Jew with roots in Belarus, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland, the subject of this volume has deep personal resonance and represents...

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Introduction: Creolization as Cultural Creativity

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pp. 3-19

Creolization is cultural creativity in process. When cultures come into contact, expressive forms and performances emerge from their encounter, embodying the sources that shape them yet constituting new and different entities. Fluid in their adaptation to changing...

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Metaphors of Incommensurability

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pp. 20-31

The old Black woman who gave Jeanette Robinson Murphy an account of how spirituals were created reminds us that it is “mixture” that lurks behind the vast array of words that have been used over the last four hundred years to describe the processes...

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Monde Créole: The Cultural World of French Louisiana Creoles and the Creolization of World Cultures

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pp. 32-67

In June of 1934 young Alan Lomax was in pursuit of the oral traditional music of Cajun and Creole Louisiana. His recording of African French singer Jimmy Peters’s “J’ai fait tout le tour du pays” in the southwest prairie, rice-farming village...

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Creolization, Nam, Absent Loved Ones, Watchers, and Serious Play with “Toys”

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pp. 68-108

This essay points up the multiple theoretical trajectories associated with the term “creolization” over the past forty years. In light of this history, I argue that the term has outlived its usefulness as a unitary theoretical rubric. However, as an open-ended...

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Ritual Piracy: Or Creolization with an Attitude

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pp. 109-136

The first thing that attracted my attention when visiting the altar room of a Puerto Rican bruja (witch-healer) was the bizarre mishmash of Catholic saints and Afro-Caribbean and Amerindian deities, standing in front of a Buddha and the chromolithograph...

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Africa’s Creole Drum: The Gumbe as Vector and Signifier of Trans-African Creolization

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pp. 137-177

The story told here—a transatlantic story of displacement, cultural reinvention, and creolization—begins well over two centuries ago, in 1800. Almost precisely at midnight, on the first of October in that year, several hundred black people completed...

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Techniques of Creolization

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pp. 178-197

Creolization, presented in detail by authors in this volume, is gaining currency around the world under various names. Its realities, in the socially situated interaction of human beings, deserve attention. As an example of flattening the concept...

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Creole Talk: The Poetics and Politics of Argentine Verbal Art

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pp. 198-227

Words, and alternative ways of talking, have habitually been the poor man’s currency in creole societies; forever, as well, have they served as weapons against oppressive authority, vehicles for solidarity among all manner of disenfranchised peoples...

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Villes, Poèmes: The Postwar Routes of Caribbean Creolization

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pp. 228-242

In his 1958 study of Haitian Vodou Alfred Métraux made the following observation: “People are prone to suppose that the purest and richest traditions are to be found in the remotest valleys. The little I was able to see of rural Voodoo convinced...

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Amalgams and Mosaics, Syncretisms and Reinterpretations: Reading Herskovits and Contemporary Creolists for Metaphors of Creolization

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pp. 243-284

Creolization is a slippery concept, powerful in its ability to characterize emergent cultural forms but eluding precision in definition. Perhaps its slipperiness befits a concept so useful for rendering the fluidity of processes build out of the interpenetration...

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About Face: Rethinking Creolization

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pp. 285-305

Creolization is a complex process of cultural mirroring and blending that occurs when peoples come together for trade and other forms of exchange. Creolizing is a process of mixing which maintains its precarious stability. The mixt, the mixtury...


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pp. 307-338

List of Contributors

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pp. 339-342


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pp. 343-354

E-ISBN-13: 9781617031076
E-ISBN-10: 1617031070
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617031069
Print-ISBN-10: 1617031062

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011