'Us Creole': Intersubjectivity, Empire and the Politics of Meaning-Making in Autobiography
Bauer, Antoinette, Hecate
... significantly, the evidence of the maps hanging on the walls around give the lie to the image of the isolated sceptred isle, the little world all on its own. They make it clear that the nation [Britain] could only survive, be victualled, watered, armed, supplied through connection across borders, through the convoys which set out from the ports and entrepots of the empire, its allies and sympathisers. Here they are, marked out on the map - Kingston, Jamaica; Port of Spain, Trinidad; Aruba, Curacao; Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Recife, Halifax, St. Johns, Sydney, Gibraltar, Oran, Algiers, Casablanca, the Azores, Dakar, Bathurst, Freetown, Reykjavik, and many others. Other islands, a constellation of islands, other harbours, a star map of interconnection, a constellation of islands, other harbours, a star map of interconnection, a necklace of many stones set in as many seas, the collaboration of many peoples and places and ports - the antithesis of self-sufficiency in isolation.(1)
From 1801 to 1805, "in the shadow"(2) of the contemporary San Domingo slave rebellion led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Maria Nugent, later Lady Nugent, 'composed' her self in her journal - a journal which documents the governorship of Jamaica, most lucrative among British colonies, by her husband George Nugent. Some years later in London in 1831, at the height of the anti-slavery campaign, a Bermudan-born slave named Mary Prince became the first person from the British West Indies to publish her story in the form known as slave narrative.(3) Although the two autobiographers, Prince and Nugent, never met, they are brought together here to trace what is an uneasy but intimate relation, a relation of implicated histories and imbricated subjectivities. I am not reading in tangent the history of a slave and the journal of a woman of privilege in order somehow to transcend or magically dissolve social divisions. Rather, my approach seeks to highlight the interactive production of meanings articulated within and between their imperially pre-scribed subjectivities and, in the process, to problematise homogenising conceptions of imperialism and autobiography.
One of the fundamental 'subjecting imperatives' explicated in contemporary cultural theory has been the knowledge that there can be no subjectivity without intersubjectivity. However, this and other such imperatives of imperial rule have long been realised in the colonial complex, where the tenuousness of 'self' brought about by displacement, dispossession, and cultural denigration was, and continues to be, enacted on a daily basis. The interrelationship of mistress and slave, for example, specifically that of Mary Prince and Maria Nugent, is located primarily, but not solely, within a subjectivity compact, wherein one form of subjecthood derives its meaning in relation or in opposition to, or at times despite an/other or others. That compact, however, is specifically located, and is played out within the inequitable dynamic of colonial power relations which (in both senses) articulate the British West Indies. Together then, with the 'figurative' dynamic underscoring the texts of mistress and slave, the contingencies of the colonial creole Caribbean constitute a more grounded cultural connection that serves both to distinguish and to bind the lives and self-representations of women like Prince and Nugent.
The term 'creole' has been used in different ways by different cultures to refer to a variety of societies. In his ground-breaking historical study, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica: 1770-1820, E. K. Brathwaite deploys the word in its original Spanish sense of criollo: born into, native to, committed to the area of living, and identifies four main inter-related cultural "groups" which make up the socio-cultural continuum in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century Jamaican society: European, Euro-creole, Afro-creole and "West Indian." Central to my argument is an understanding of the processes of "creolisation" as the tension between the palimpsestic colonial elements and the developing local (creole) cultural elements. Brathwaite defines creolisation as "a cultural action - material psychological and spiritual - based upon the stimulus/response of individuals within society to their environment and - as white/black, culturally discrete groups - to each other."(4) Brathwaite offers a revisionary history which seeks to emphasise the local and the anti-colonial elements of Jamaican culture and politics. However, what the study lacks is a framework for analysing the power relations within the colonial-creole dynamic.
Rather than resting purely on a bipartite, superior white/inferior black dichotomy, societies in the colonial Caribbean experienced a more complex entangling of histories and cultures. After the virtual extermination of the indigenous Carib and Arawak Indian populations by the Spanish and later European invaders, the Caribbean population was made up almost entirely of kidnapped and enslaved West Africans and of European colonisers, of transplanted peoples who "lived, worked and were born in [the Caribbean] and who, [therefore] contributed to the formation of a society which [had] its own distinctive character or culture, which, in so far as it was neither purely British nor West African, is called 'creole.'"(5) Focusing on Jamaica (1770-1820) in his historical study of colonial creolisation, Brathwaite highlights the development of institutions, customs and attitudes which were produced by the interaction between its two main elements, the African and the European. These developments were shaped also by a wider, so-called New World cultural complex, predominant among which were the forces of British and European mercantilism, and the American, French, and "Humanitarian" Revolutions, which is Brathwaite's term for those movements of and for slaves for emancipation.
My point is that although colonial relations in the European Caribbean were foundationally and fundamentally inequitable, the traffic of socio-political and cultural influence was never simply that of the dominant upon the subordinate, of white influence upon Afro-Caribbean practices, lives, bodies and texts, with Europeans maintaining total control of meaning-making apparatuses. The Africanist influence upon whites, which is both overtly and covertly figured in Maria Nugent's Journal, was also pervasive and profound. As summarised by Brathwaite, "fixed within the dehumanizing institution of slavery, were two cultures of people, having to adapt themselves to a new environment and to each other. The friction created by this confrontation was cruel but it was also creative."(6) Nowhere is this cruel and creative dynamic more profoundly felt, yet desperately denied, than at the level of subjectivity. The notion of 'creolisation' is deployed, then, as a means of explicating the disavowed interrelation underpinning subjectivity and autobiography in empire, and of tracing the productive dialogic between ideologies of 'self,' and the specific historito-political and cultural contingencies which effectively write the lives both of the woman enslaved and the woman of privilege.
Jonathan Dollimore has suggested that what is at issue in the proximate and, hence, uneasy relation of the dominant and the subordinate is the struggle in and for representation, and "how instability is represented." In such a situation, "those who control the means of representation have more than a head start. The power of domination is the power to fashion, apparently rationally but usually violently, the more 'truthful' narrative."(7) This description of the struggle in and for representation is particularly pertinent to slave narrative, where so much is at stake precisely because colonial discourses have repeatedly and perniciously misrepresented slaves and their histories. In discourses of self which appeared in particular at the height of imperial expansion in the nineteenth century, the power to fashion more 'truthful' narratives culminated in the myth of the sovereign, autonomous, unassailable and textually containable "I." However, as will become apparent in reading Maria Nugent's Journal, attempts - in what might be termed 'imperious' autobiographies - to authorise a transcendent, integral and totally autonomous subjectivity inevitably founder on an explicit or implicit post-colonial self-presence which buttresses the construction of the imperial "I," even as that "I" denies the other self.
It was via autobiography that slaves first gained access to 'official' discourses of self-representation. But such access was not without cost. Constraints on the British slave narrative form - moral, propagandist and generic - overdetermined both the shape and style of individual slave histories. Specifically, the moral and instructive pre-scripts of Mary Prince's Moravian Abolitionist sponsors "put a veil about the truth" of any sexual abuses she suffered, and about her sexuality generally. The propagandist (anti-slavery) purpose also tended to erase any 'personality' and the interior lives of slaves from the account. Agency tended to be played down, negated or simply overwritten. Stylistically, slave narratives such as Prince's History - as Toni Morrison highlights in relation to those in the United States - are often patterned after the sentimental novel popular at the time.(8) In the hands of the Abolitionists the ex-slave's life is fashioned into a 'moral fable,' positive testimony to the value of Christian faith and the success of the civilising mission.
But the most problematic aspect of Prince's narrative, particularly in relation to any 'reading for resistance,' is that it was not written by Prince, but is conveyed via the mediating presence of a European woman, Susanna Strickland,(9) who was a guest at the home of Prince's (by then) employer, Thomas Pringle, Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society. In his Preface to the History, Pringle asserts that Prince's amanuensis, herself the author of a volume of poetry, has taken down Prince's account fully, "with all the narrator's repetitions and prolixities," but notes that the account was "afterwards pruned into its present shape" excluding "reduncances [sic] and gross grammatical errors."(10) As Clare Midgley suggests, the result "with its standard English, ordered arrangement, and selective exclusions was well suited to appeal to the British public, but had doubtless lost some of the immediacy of Prince's original account."(11)
The discursive positioning of Mary Prince's History is, therefore, highly complicated and problematic. We have no way of knowing precisely which details of Prince's story, her responses, attitudes, even personality were considered redundant to the propagandist needs of the Anti-Slavery Society, that insisted on portraying its female 'victims' as paragons of Christian virtue. Nor can we ever know exactly how much Prince either felt constrained about, or felt it wise to hold back, in presenting an acceptable persona to her sponsors. Much of the tenor of her telling also, in terms of Prince's Jamaican (creole) diction, has presumably been effaced. Given the politics surrounding the production and reception of the text, the shortage of extraneous documentation of Prince's life,(12) and the multifarious cultural and historical contingencies that mark and mark out the text, what then is the most useful context in which to approach this significant, sui generis narrative?
In her writings on Prince's text, Moira Ferguson refers to a "double-discourse" or counter-history woven into Prince's narrative which, in her view, represents a strategic response on Prince's part to deal with the censorious presence of her Abolitionist patrons, an attempt to at least point to another, unable-to-be-spoken history.(13) However, rather than viewing this textual inveigling, together with all of the instances of outright and veiled resistance throughout Prince's life - the occasions, for instance, where she "took courage" and answered back her masters - simply as an individual response to the experience of slavery, I would suggest that such responses exemplify instead, a culturally specific mode of resistance, and existence. Mary Prince's conscious manoeuvring towards freedom which began when she managed to negotiate her way from Bermuda to Antigua - historically the most appealing island for any slave struggling towards freedom - and then from Antigua to London, after convincing her owners to let her accompany them on a visit there, needs to be read in light of the fact that Mary Prince was a creole, a Caribbean-born slave. As Ferguson points out in her Introduction to the History, "unlike Africans who endured kidnapping, the rigours of the Middle Passage, the process of seasoning and the ordeal of plantation work, she already savoured a small measure of independence."(14) So it was not only the timeliness of Prince's appearance at the home of Thomas Pringle during the Anti-Slavery campaign which saw this most unlikely autobiographer record her history. Prince's determination to "let English people know the truth" about slavery attests also to her adeptness in taking advantage of even the smallest of spaces opened up by the processes of creolisation; those interstices of existence within which Prince came not so much to 'know herself' in the individualist sense, but to (re)-make herself, refusing the imposed status and determination of "slave."
Apart from the strategic manoeuvrings effected by Mary Prince in the culturally incommensurable spaces of the creolised West Indies, her text can also be read 'otherwise' in terms of those undoing ambivalences in colonial discursive and administrative authority. For although the limitations on the inscription of slave histories undoubtedly worked to produce autobiographical subjects of a particular kind, chiefly subjects who would be acceptable to white readers, they also represent potential springboards for intervention in and interrogation of imperious ideologies of self. What happens, for instance, when an enslaved woman such as Mary Prince, who is property rather than propertied, and therefore does not meet any of the usual criteria of the self-authorising writer of autobiography, appropriates the conventional status-affirming trope of western autobiography, "I was born ... etc" to begin her history?
I was born at Brackish-Pond, in Bermuda, on a farm belonging to Mr. Charles Myners. My mother was a household slave; and my father, whose name was Prince, was a sawyer belonging to Mr. Trimmingham, a shipbuilder at Crow-Lane. When I was an infant, old Mr Myners died, and there was a division of the slaves and other property among the family. I was bought along with my mother by old Captain Darrel, and given to his grandchild, little Miss Betsey Williams.... Mrs. Williams was a kind-hearted good woman, and she treated all her slaves well. She had only one daughter, Miss Betsey, for whom I was purchased, and who was about my own age. I was made quite a pet of by Miss Betsey, and loved her very much. She used to lead me about by the hand, and called me her little nigger. (47)
What does in fact happen is that in the 'etceteras' that make up the dead-pan factual pronouncements in the first page of Prince's narrative, readers are confronted with the subject who is 'object' - in her words, a "little nigger" pet for her master's child, Betsey. By its very definition, autobiography takes for granted the fact that there is a 'self' or 'subjecthood' to be inscribed and, more often than not during the nineteenth-century in published autobiographies, the subjects represented were, in Spivak's summary description, "the straight white christian [men] of property."(15) I suggest, however, that in this taking up of a trope which usually describes and ascribes status to indicate instead an object and abject self, Mary Prince's self-rendering makes manifest all that is overwritten in the declaratory and palimpsestic "I," in the imperious proposition of the bourgeois, individualist self. The slave autobiography, a contradiction in terms, both in relation to the pre-scripts of imperial autobiography and 'proper' subjectivity, effectively functions as a contra/diction of those very defining terms. The re-citation of the "I" becomes a re-siting, a post-colonial reinscription where the disavowed double or shadow of the imperial autograph does indeed become a presence.
Just such an imperious taken-for-grantedness of subjecthood as that outlined above characterises the journal of Maria Nugent. Expressing regret at having to leave her "little abode" in England after having just completed a tour of colonial duty in Ireland, she writes: "I should greatly have preferred remaining, instead of playing Governor's lady to the blackies: but we are soldiers, and must have no will of our own."(16) From the outset she invokes imperial and Christian duty - the two often melding - as a rationale for her colonial presence. Indeed, commencing her journal from the comfort of her metropolitan home, Nugent is secure in the knowledge of her 'self' and her place as "Governor's lady to the blackies." By way of contrast with Mary Prince, who does not have the luxury, Maria Nugent very much takes her 'self' as given. What Nugent fails to recognise is that she is able to do so precisely because her sense of self is formed in opposition to, or quite literally on the backs of those enslaved or colonised. But if her very sense of self, her British womanhood, is derived in contradistinction to non-European selves, specifically non-European women, it is also largely dependent upon those whom she calls "blackies," upon women such as Mary Prince.
From the comfort of home, Nugent may view her relationship to the colony and its inhabitants purely and literally in black and white terms, taking no account of the creole element, the cultural and racial admixing of Jamaican society. Very soon after arriving in Jamaica, however, her metropolitan fancy of static black and white determinations begins to break down, when she is confronted by colonial realities. Perhaps the most overt and spectacular enactment of colonial authority's vulnerability in the encounter with alterity is the failure of the governing white elite to uphold towards the Afro-Caribbean population the official policy of legal and social apartheid. Unofficially, but very visibly, as Maria Nugent discovered, "it was in the intimate area of sexual relationships that the greatest damage was done to white creole apartheid policy and where the most significant - and lasting - inter-cultural creolization took place."(17) Barely three days into her Jamaica sojourn, Nugent recounts a conversation with two female dinner guests: "The ladies told me strange stories of the influence of the black and yellow women and Mrs. Bullock called them serpents" (12). Apart from the allusion to the dangerous sexuality of black and yellow woman, as in Orientalising representations of 'other' women, also underscoring this remark is a whole history of, to say the least, uneasy relationships between female slave owners, and female slaves. Mary Prince's History - sexually veiled though it was by the censorious presence of her Moravian sponsors(18) - gives testimony to this resentment on the part of wives of slave owners who vent their bitterness on their female slaves. Though not stated explicitly, when read between the lines the "persistent head-punching" Prince endured at the hands of one of her mistresses attests to this retributionary history.
Nugent soon discovered that it was common for white men of all ranks to have black mistresses. Here she describes, in orientalising terms, the relationship between a Scottish officer, overseer of a sugar estate, and his mistress:
I left the gentlemen, and went to the overseer's house.... I talked to the black women, who told me all their histories. The overseer's chere amie, and no man here is without one, is a tall, black woman, well made.... She showed me her three yellow children, and said, with some ostentation, she should soon have another. The marked attention of the other women, plainly proved her to be the favourite Sultana of this vulgar, ugly, Scotch Sultan .... (29)
Thus, while she is (predictably) appalled and dismayed by the general morals of the colony, she reserves her harshest judgement for the "degenerate" white creoles, men especially, who presumably should know better.
Dominant representations of European women in the colonial/imperial complex have them ensconced in domestic spaces at the margins of the real action and import of empire, denying them any role either as agents of colonialist policies or agents of critique. Though in many respects socially marginal, white women in empire were symbolically central to the construction of 'Britishness,' male Britishness in particular.(19) As a consequence of her privileged class, and perhaps also by sheer force of personality, Maria Nugent's role in the day-to-day political machinations in the colonial 'administration' of Jamaica during a critical period of the Napoleonic War is more than a symbolically central one. Although Nugent is "remarkably reticent about matters of state in her Journal, confining herself to brief allusions and rather evasive hints,"(20) the fact that she copies out confidential despatches, presides over dinner parties with military leaders and generally knows everything that goes on, suggests that she takes her 'duty' as imperialist as seriously as she does her Christian duty.
Despite Nugent's privileged position and her taking up of a "monarchic female voice that asserts its own kind of mastery even as it denies domination and parodies power,"(21) Nugent's self-representation is in no sense straightforwardly imperious. On the contrary, hers is very much an interstitial text, that is, both within and 'without' patriarchal colonial discourses of self. Nugent is at her monarchic best expressing the view that the material conditions for slaves - keeping in mind that her first hand experience with slaves is limited to the relatively privileged category of domestic servants - compare favourably with those of Irish peasants: "indeed I must say, they have reason to be content, for they have many comforts and enjoyments. I only wish the poor Irish were half as well off" (53). Yet Nugent also seems acutely aware that it is the nature of the colonial context to construct unauthentic, imposed roles. At times she appears to be very self-consciously performing her role as "Governor's lady" to the point of cynical self-mockery. In describing the proceedings at yet another ball given in her honour, she writes:
We were met at the door by four stewards, and marched up the room to the tune of "God Save the King." I then stood by the state sofa, receiving the compliments of all the company, and making curtsies for near an hour. After which, I opened the ball with the Admiral, danced with a Member of Council and one of the Assembly, and then thought it dignified to play a rubber of cassino. This over, General N. and I walked around the room, toadying and being toadied till supper time. (133, second emphasis added)
Read in the light of the creole context, Maria Nugent's self-representation, functions as a critique of colonial authority from within. For at the very least, the processes of creolisation rattle the self-assurance of imperial subjecthood so that Maria Nugent cannot, after all, be sure of her place. As Nugent describes it on the occasion of the annual servant's ball:
As soon as that ceremony was over, I began the ball with an old negro man.... However, I was not aware how much I shocked the Misses Murphy by doing this; for I did exactly the same as I would have done at a servants' hall birthday in England. They told me, afterwards, that they were nearly fainting, and could hardly forbear shedding a flood of tears, at such an unusual and extraordinary sight; for in this country, and among slaves, it was necessary to keep up so much more distant respect! . . . I meant nothing wrong, and all the poor creatures seemed so delighted, and so much pleased, that I could scarcely repent it. I was, nevertheless, very sorry to have hurt their feelings, and particularly too as they seemed to think the example dangerous; as making the blacks of too much consequence, or putting them at all on a footing with the whites, they said, might make a serious change in their conduct, and even produce a rebellion in the island. (156)
Given that there was an (ongoing) slave-led rebellion on the nearby island of San Domingo there is a certain amount of irony, if not disingenuousness, in Nugent's words. However, what is exemplified here is the incommensurability of the creolised social context enacting the shifting grounds of colonial relations and the potential for disruption of colonial authority. Similarly, in Mary Prince's History, the refusal of her slave status takes place within the imposed institutions of religion and marriage. Often, transplanted apparatuses of colonialism such as Christianity did in fact have the opposite of the desired effect, especially when combined with local practices in order to create something which, when 'mistranslated' in a mixed or creolised form, created spaces in which to manoeuvre. Certainly, Maria Nugent was perplexed when her attempts to encourage not only baptism among her household slaves, but Christian marriage, were met by stern opposition from planters and others. Although the religious instruction of slaves was enjoined upon slave-owners in the Slave Code, Mary Prince's taking up with the Moravian Church and her subsequent marriage within the church were done against the wishes of her owners who were enraged by what they saw as liberty-taking.
By reading Prince and Nugent's texts in tangent, the autobiographical site/citation is revealed to be inevitably one of double inscription. In the post-colonial context, the enunciation of the "I" is never, in spite of what it espouses, an act of singularity. Prince's reinscription shows up not only the arrogance, but the untenability of the integral, purportedly monologic "I" composed in splendid isolation. Though at opposite ends of the colonial hierarchy, Prince and Nugent are intimately and unavoidably connected in ideologies of self and in autobiographical representation. In Prince's replication of imperial/imperious autobiographical tropes, within what must be considered a representative narrative - given her strong identification with and recognition of other slaves and their stories - the very ideological processes by which the imperious "I" is constructed are laid bare.
In Maria Nugent's journal, her overtly and covertly figured dependence on others and the disruptive, or eruptive creolisation of her 'self' effectively reveals the disavowed split and mixed self inscribed in imperial autobiographical enunciations. What is also shown is the irretrievably "disjunctive and double" nature of the colonial-postcolonial "I,"(22) which Mary Prince was made keenly aware of as she wrought her existence. Maria Nugent's Journal represents, then, an important study in creolisation, but not because a creole society works an explicit and dramatic transformation on her self-representation. The creole context works, rather, to dramatise the shifting grounds of colonial relations and the cracks in imperial authority - in this instance, in the context of autobiographical representation. Though by no means to the same degree, or in any sense as powerfully invested a force as it was in Mary Prince's life and text, colonial creolisation manifestly shaped the self-composition of Maria Nugent. On the voyage home with her two Jamaican-born children, as their ship approaches England, Nugent's Journal entry for the second of September 1805 reads:
Towards the evening, very cold to us Creoles. Louisa did not seem to feel so much as George, who looked very grave at first, and then said his fingers were sore, which was a very natural idea for a child, who had never before known what cold was. (252)
Thus Maria Nugent's children are corporeally creolised, and return "home" with the Jamaican climate (in both senses of the word) quite literally in their bones. Whether or not they recognise it, their creolised selves, like Nugent's text, give "the lie to the image of the isolated sceptred isle, the little world all on its own," and also give the lie to notions of cultural purity upon which myths of imperial dominance rest.
It has not been my desire simply to appropriate the idea of creolisation as a metaphor for a form of "hybridised" discourse. Creolisation, deployed here as a reading strategy, a reading against the self-declared sovereignty of the colonial subject, attempts to highlight the conflictual history within which the texts were produced, dis-covering what Dollimore calls the "radical proximity" of the violently disavowed other in order to argue that "the subject is not only split in the sense of needing the other to complete itself; it is also split because its identity is actually informed by the other, by what it is not."(23) Creolisation, as witnessed in the texts of Mary Prince and Maria Nugent, has been and remains a complex, ambivalent and problematic cultural phenomenon, representing what Homi Bhabha refers to in another context as "a kind of agonistic struggle between indigenous practices and imposed forms, a negotiation that [cannot] be reduced to the polarity between a pre-constituted western tradition and authentic native tradition."(24) In the institutional operations of creolisation, the "us" and "them" opposition is always an unstable construct, producing its own contradictory force in theory and in praxis, and there is always room for "change, contest, and struggle," though not without a degree of "suffering, victimisation and [further] struggle".(25) Neither does creolisation represent the terminus for struggle in the Caribbean. Rather, it signifies an ongoing and vital process where identity is not a permanent solution, or even a refuge, but is both contingent upon and strategically negotiated within and against the limits set by colonialist power.
1. Marina Warner, "Home: Our Famous Island Race," Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time, The Reith Lectures, 1994 (London: Vintage, 1994): 81-82, emphasis added.
2. Phillip Wright's description in his Introduction to Maria Nugent, Lady Nugent's Journal of Her Residence in Jamaica from 1801 to 1805. . Rev. ed. Philip Wright ed. (Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Jamaica, 1966).
3. Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself.  Moira Ferguson ed. (London: Pandora, 1987).
4. Edward K. Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971): 296.
5. Brathwaite: xiii.
6. 307. Because the period of Brathwaite's study is 1770-1820 he does not focus at all on the cultural and social impact of indentured labourers who came from India and China, for example, who as he suggests, introduce new complexities into the discussion and formulation of creolisation. Obviously these cultural groups and other "migrants" have had a significant impact upon the creole dynamic and would need to be taken account of in any analysis of creolisation in contemporary Caribbean society and literature.
7. Jonathan Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991): 90.
8. Toni Morrison, "The Site of Memory," in Out There: Marginalisation and Contemporary Cultures, Russell Ferguson et al., eds. (New York: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990): 301.
9. Susanna Strickland became Susanna Moodie, the well-known Canadian writer.
10. Thomas Pringle, Preface, The History of Mary Prince a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, Moira Ferguson ed. (London: Pandora, 1987): 45.
11. Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns 1780-1870 (London: Routledge, 1992): 90.
12. As documented by Moira Ferguson, Prince's History went into three editions by the end of the year of its publication and was the focus of much public controversy. Two court actions ensued. In the first court case, Thomas Pringle sued Thomas Cadell, the publisher of Blackwoods Magazine, which published a "savage diatribe" against Mary Prince by James Macqueen, editor of the Glasgow Courier, a strong opponent of emancipation. The record of Prince's court appearance is the only extant "image" of her outside her narrative. The second court case involved Prince's former owner, John Wood, who brought an action for libel against Thomas Pringle. It is not known whether Mary Prince was present at the second case. In the editor's Supplement of the History, various attempts to impugn Mary Prince's character and the veracity of her account are also documented. The desire for authentication of her story was such, that an appendix to the third edition recounts the viewing of Mary Prince's body by three women, Susanna Strickland, Susan Brown, and Martha A. Browne for substantiating "evidence." The scars from severe floggings "chequered" the whole of the back part of her body.
13. See Ferguson's Introduction, The History of Mary Prince: 1-41 and her Subject to Others: British Women Writers and Colonial Slavery, 1670-1834 (New York: Routledge, 1992).
14. Ferguson: 95.
15. Quoted in Julia Watson and Sidonie Smith, "Introduction: De/Colonization and the Politics of Discourse in Women's Autobiographical Practices," in De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women's Autobiography, ed. Sidone Smith and Julia Watson (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1992): xvii.
16. April 1801: 2.
17. Brathwaite: 303.
18. For a discussion of the role played by the Moravians in relation to Bessie Cameron in Australia see Bain Attwood, "'In the Name of All My Coloured Brethren and Sisters': A Biography of Bessie Cameron," Hecate XII, 1/2 (1986): 9-53, esp. 16-19; see also Brathwaite 252-53.
19. See Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1991).
20. Wright, Introduction: xi.
21. Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992): 213.
22. Homi K. Bhabha, "How Newness Enters the World: Postmodern Space, Postcolonial Times and the Trials of Cultural Translation," in his The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994): 234.
23. Dollimore: 254.
24. Bhabha: 51.
25. Dollimore: 88.…
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Publication information: Article title: 'Us Creole': Intersubjectivity, Empire and the Politics of Meaning-Making in Autobiography. Contributors: Bauer, Antoinette - Author. Journal title: Hecate. Volume: 21. Issue: 1 Publication date: May 1995. Page number: 8+. © 1999 Hecate Press. COPYRIGHT 1995 Gale Group.