Winds of Change: The Transforming Voices of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars

Winds of Change: The Transforming Voices of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars

Winds of Change: The Transforming Voices of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars

Winds of Change: The Transforming Voices of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars

Synopsis

"Designed to continue the tradition of critical study and celebration of the literary products of Caribbean writers, Winds of Change features eighteen new essays written by writers and scholars of Caribbean literature. The volume was developed from the 1996 International Conference of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars and includes original essays by Opal Palmer Adisa, Maryse Conde, Beryl A. Gilroy, Merle Hodge, Patricia Powel, Astrid H. Roemer, and Elaine Savory, among others. The writers speak to each other and to the audience on the ways in which Caribbean women writers influence their societies (cultural, political, social, economic) through their literature. The work also features a discussion of Afro-Brasilian writers who situate themselves as Caribbean in sensibility and content." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book is a result of the gathering of Caribbean women writers and scholars who participated in the 1996 International Conference of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars held April 24-27 at Florida International University. Over three hundred academics, students, scholars, and literature mavens assembled to discuss the theme "Winds of Change: the Transforming Voices of Women." the conference sought to bring to the fore the contributions Caribbean women have made to the literature, culture, and politics of the region.

The excitement of familiarity marked the occasion, which was largely attended by women. Both Caribbean and African American women have had interruptions in cultural insularity by virtue of the Middle Passage, slavery, the plantation system, and domestic servitude. Both created and lay claim to artful language development and verbal dexterity. Both share the spiritual energy of generations of courageous and entrepreneurial foremothers who tirelessly cultivated, nurtured and harvested, bartered and sold in order to provide the best for their families. These experiences are revealed in the works of Caribbean women writers.

Yet a significant point of divergence between Caribbean and African American women is in the concept of place as cultural or imaginative construction, as well as in the evocation of place. That is, what does it mean to inhabit an island where, after colonization, the seats of government are run by people of one's own racial group? and when does social class become the greater divide, as in the Caribbean, while race and color mount social divisions and distinctions in North America?

The concept of place also embraces separation or exile from a cherished and particular place. Both African American and Caribbean women have endured and written about the experience of living in exile. While in the case of the latter, exile may be rendered as physical and geographical, the spiritual exile of the African American woman in her own community or county has been no less real. Exile, both physical and psychological, is very much a feature of the communal landscape of many Caribbean writers. On the question of Caribbean women writing in exile, Barbadian- connected Elaine Savory explains that:

"wherever you live in the world, if you live in a space which is connected to the Caribbean and you recognize Caribbean cultural sovereignty, you write within Caribbean space. . . . Our divisions, if set out oppositionally, or to privilege one identity over another, only weaken our communal capacity to share and to go home to work alone in a fully creative way."

While African American writers, as Surinamese Astrid H. Roemer points out, do not have to live in exile as do many Caribbean writers, a literary tradition binds both . . .

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