- Globalization and the Post-Creole Imagination: Notes on Fleeing the Plantation
Focusing on Caribbean sociocultural practices, this wide-ranging study aims to reshape recent thinking about creolization through an approach closely resembling creolization itself, which Crichlow defines, following Michel-Rolph Trouillot, as “processes of ‘selective creation and cultural struggle’” (ix). Challenging, modifying, and integrating perspectives drawn from anthropology, geography, political theory, economics, philosophy, and literature, Crichlow’s study of creolization seeks to bring conceptual complexity to our understanding of the “entanglements”—of global and local processes, temporalities, spaces, places, and power—within which modern subjectivities and practices are developed. Crichlow’s key concepts and influences surface and resurface in a similarly entangled weave, reflecting the difficulty of the materials and ambitious scope of the study, which endeavors to present Caribbean histories and practices in a way that accounts for both their specificity and their “worldly” dimensions. In this account, “fleeing the plantation” refers at once to creolization’s ability to transcend its originary context, to the ongoing nature of this flight in the face of historical continuities, and to the specific forms of agency and resistance produced under and through the constraints of the plantation.
The prologue and first two chapters of the book develop its theoretical framework, situating its account of Creole subjects’ experience and refashioning of self, space, and time within a broad philosophical tradition and a wide range of Caribbean and postcolonial scholarship. These opening chapters set up analyses of the more specific anecdotes and case studies that follow in chapters 4 through 6, combining selected insights from, most prominently, the work of Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Henri Lefebvre, and Achille Mbembe. Several lines of inquiry emerge from this theoretical conjunction. Chief among them is the investigation of Creole subjects’ “will to place”—that is, the desire to make the self present and to “home” the self’s “modern freedoms”—that animates the production of new modes of practice from within the multiple contexts that co-constitute the self. The notion of “making place” or “homing” owes much to Henri Lefebvre, whose theorization of space as a product is examined extensively in chapter 2, “Creole Time on the Move.” “Making place” also functions similarly to Foucault’s technologies [End Page 417] of the self (which, along with his concept of modern governmentality, greatly influence Crichlow’s analysis of the Creole subject’s relation to the state), and to the logic of practice or practical sense exercised by Bourdieu’s habitus as embodied history. Finally, Crichlow describes the dynamics of making place through the symbol of “the politics of the cross,” that is, the temporal and spatial interaction between the “vertical demands” or interpellations made on subjects and their “horizontal necessities (the struggle for moving one’s place-in-time by morphing cultures of power)” (70).
Subtending the work as a whole, this line of inquiry is supplemented along the way by related concepts of bricolage, critical mimesis, pastiche, and accommodation. Chapter 3 examines the ways in which will to place motivates smallholders’ struggles, highlighting both the subversive dimensions of their resistance to domination as well as the exclusionary, marginalizing tendencies of the strategies of “uplift” they deploy. Chapter 4 turns to the “Lucians,” a satirical comedy troupe/political party in St. Lucia, analyzing their challenges to state narratives and their reinforcement and reproduciton of state authority and elitist practices. Chapter 5 seeks to dismantle the binary of travel and fixity at work in transnational and diaspora studies by analyzing the interactions between St. Lucia’s “gens anglaises” (emigrants to England who later return to the island) and “locals” who have lived continuously on the island, but whose sociocultural practices have changed over time. Finally, chapter 6 deploys Jameson’s trope of the “eBay imaginary” as a point of departure for interrogating the global and local as “quintessentially relational spheres, mutually constituted and contested cultures of power” that Creole subjects navigate in their quest for place (182).
The strengths of this book—its multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach, its self-aware...