Academic journal article Journal of Caribbean Literatures

Introduction

Academic journal article Journal of Caribbean Literatures

Introduction

Article excerpt

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? Where is your tribal memory? Sirs, in that gray vault. The sea. The sea has locked them up. The sea is History.

--Derek Walcott "The Sea Is History"

Geography and history inform much literature, much art, though their presence in Caribbean writing may strike us with singular force. When one does not have to travel very far in any direction to be confronted by land's end, a consciousness different from continental assurance develops. This is not to say that the island mind in such case is provincial, cultivating suspended indulgence in remote subtropical luxuriance. That Caribbean is reserved for tourist traffic. Rather, the dwellers on this archipelago represent a scattering of peoples on a roughly sickle-shaped scattering of islands. Their awareness of the surrounding sea is immediate and historical.

As a house for fishes (Auden's phrase) that sea provides livelihood. In its farther eastward reaches it breeds hurricanes that follow the track of a notorious human catastrophe. Along this Middle Passage it served as an atrocious dumping ground for kidnapped, sickened Africans. Even earlier the arrival of Europeans from across its expanse spelled doom for the Arawaks. In following centuries, diasporas of various kinds, of various degrees of volition, led Middle Easterners and South Asians in particular across the waters to join descendants of colonists, the indentured, and the enslaved.

The variegated voices in these pages reflect something of that history, something of the landscapes, seascapes, and human scenes that make the Caribbean such a vibrant, vexed nexus. For a majority of its inhabitants the ongoing struggle lies in transforming history from a reality that must be suffered or endured to one achieved through a greater degree of self-determination. …

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.