Essay Cultural Erasure

5588 Words Jan 15th, 2013 23 Pages
Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 79, octubre de 2005 |


Identity and Erasure: Finding the Elusive Caribbean
Anton Allahar

– Caribbean Autobiography: cultural identity and self-representation, by Sandra
Pouchet Paquet. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
– Decolonising the Caribbean: Dutch policies in a comparative perspective, by
Gert Oostindie and Inge Klinkers. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press,
– Ah Come Back Home: Perspectives on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, edited by Ian I. Smart, and Kimani S. K. Nehusi. Washington: Original World Press,
The Caribbean can be many things to many people: a geographic region somewhere in America’s backyard, an
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Next I examine the contributions of Geert Oostindie and Inge Klinkers (2003), who move from the slave period and colonialism proper and begin to discuss the uneven dismantling of colonialism in the various Caribbean countries, and its persistence in others. In the process they focus on erasure at the wider sub-regional level of groupings of countries. Thus, Oostindie and Klinkers protest the common academic and political tendency to assume that the Caribbean is principally an
English-speaking group of countries; a tendency that simultaneously erases or minimizes the presence and contributions of other Caribbean peoples. These authors charge that while this erasure is undeniable in the cases of the Spanish- and
French-speaking Caribbean, it is particularly evident with regard to the Dutch Caribbean. For while much has been written on the wider region generally, it is ‘seldom with serious attention to the former Dutch colonies of Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba’ (2003, 10). And as they go on to argue, most general histories ‘tend virtually to neglect the Dutch Caribbean’ (p. 234). This ‘neglect’ is synonymous with erasure and constitutes a major obstacle for anyone wishing to develop a truly comprehensive understanding of the entire region.
Finally, there are Smart and Nehusi (2000), who invoke the idea of erasure and the attempt by African-ancestored

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