Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora

Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora

Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora

Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora


"Rich in scope and audacious in its critical vision, Creole Renegades incisively advances debates about fundamental aspects of our postcolonial and globalized experiences such as the enigmas of racial passing, creoleness, and returning and leaving ''home.''"--Anny Dominique Curtius, author of Symbiosis of a Memory

"An important book that tackles the phenomenon of exiled Caribbean authors from a new perspective, underscoring their contentious relationship with the home island. Boisseron continues the work of ''decentering'' Caribbean studies, moving the locus of analysis from the Antilles or Europe to North America."--Richard Watts, author of Packaging Post/Coloniality

"This insightful approach illuminates important shifts in Caribbean literature and enables Boisseron to make new, essential contributions into the articulation of subjectivities in twenty-first century literary criticism."--Frieda Ekotto, author of Race and Sex across the French Atlantic

Exiled writers often have extremely complicated relationships with their native lands. In this volume, Bénédicte Boisseron examines the works of Caribbean-born writers who, from their new locations in North America, question their cultural obligations of Caribbeanness, Creoleness, and even Blackness. She surveys the works of Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, V. S. Naipaul, Maryse Condé, Dany Laferrière, and others who at times have been well received in their adopted countries but who have been dismissed in their home islands as sell-outs, opportunists, or traitors.

These expatriate and second-generation authors refuse to be simple bearers of Caribbean culture, often dramatically distancing themselves from the postcolonial archipelago. Their writing is frequently infused with an enticing sense of cultural, sexual, or racial emancipation, but their deviance is not defiant. Instead, their emancipations are those of the nomad, whose actual and descriptive travels between points on a cultural compass help to deconstruct the "sedentary ideology of Caribbeanness" and to reanimate it with new perspectives.

Underscoring the often-ignored contentious relationship between modern diaspora authors and the Caribbean, Boisseron ultimately argues that displacement and creative autonomy are often manifest in guilt and betrayal, central themes that emerge again and again in the work of these writers.


In a 1985 public lecture in Toronto, Canada, the Barbadian-born George Lamming told the crowd, “Wherever you are, outside of the Caribbean, it should give you not only comfort, but a sense of cultural obligation, to feel that you are an important part of the Caribbean as external frontier.” Lamming’s offcenter Caribbean, this extendable Caribbean frontier resulting from a postcolonial and global era of geographical porousness, is today not a new concept. Suffice it to say that Little Haiti in Miami, the Antillean Sarcelles in the Parisian suburbs, and the Haitian diasporic community of Flatbush in Brooklyn attest to the viability of a Caribbean world outside of the archipelago. This book, however, does not address the external frontier of the Caribbean diasporic community of, let us say, Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones or of Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. The goal of this study is rather to bring attention to a new, more controversial voice from the Caribbean diaspora: that of the Caribbean individual writing outside of both the internal and external Caribbean frontiers. Creole Renegades looks at immigrant writers who had to—more or less controversially—leave their native environment and, as a consequence, relate to their community from a questionable distance as they reassessed the assumed cultural obligation imposed by their Caribbean, and more broadly, black diasporic cultural background.

The concept of diaspora, in the context of the black diaspora, suggests today a sense of diffraction, which goes against the ancestral use of the word evoking a centripetal compulsion through a desire for reunification. Diaspora, the Greek for “scattering,” initially referred to Hellenistic Jews severed from Palestine and living in exile. In the seventeenth century, the word extended to the exiled condition of the Huguenots, the Armenians, and the Palestinians. From the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries, the Middle Passage . . .

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