Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation

Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation

Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation

Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation

Synopsis

In a compelling story of the installation and operation of U.S. bases in the Caribbean colony of Trinidad during World War II, Harvey Neptune examines how the people of this British island contended with the colossal force of American empire-building.

Excerpt

For we have always been mixed up in America’s business.
—George Lamming

A year into World War ii, the British colony of Trinidad was conscripted to contribute to the cause of the Allies. By a quick diplomatic exchange on September 2, 1940, U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt and Great Britain’s prime minister Winston Churchill agreed that the tiny Caribbean territory would accommodate extensive U.S. naval and air bases. For Trinidad’s nearly halfmillion residents, this period of establishing and operating military installations (roughly 1941–47) proved to be epochal. What they would dub the “American occupation” witnessed the birth of a brave new world on the island.

This world resembled neither the utopias nor the dystopias of epic fame; yielding no clear-cut narratives, occupied Trinidad amounted to neither paradise on earth nor hell incarnate. in what were truly tempestuous times, rather, the colony presented a scene bristling with quotidian social conflict. Left little choice but to deal with the “America” lawfully in their midst, virtually everyone adopted a strategic approach, seeking in Yankee personnel, paychecks, and practices the means to realize and reenvision as well as deny and defend particular dreams and agendas. Such purposeful local interaction with the U.S. occupation almost inevitably intensified internal struggles in a community as differentiated, indeed as fractious, as Trinidad. Already agitated by popular and nationalist mobilization in the previous decade, this colonial society endured dizzying new levels of contentiousness during these years. Employers condemned workers who rushed to offer their services to Americans; respectable folks renounced rebellious young dandies who dressed in the latest Yankee fashion; men upbraided women who consorted with U.S. servicemen; critics panned calypsonians for pandering to American patrons.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.