An Introduction to Caribbean Francophone Writing: Guadeloupe and Martinique

By Sam Haigh | Go to book overview

10
Breaking the Silence: Cultural Identies
and Narrative Configurations in the
French Caribbean Novel
Suanne Crosta

As the globalization of financial markets and information technology weaken national boundaries, questions of migration, citizenship and multiculturalism have gained strong currency in social and political discourses on identity. Epistemological enquiries and discussions about global relationships have shifted the debate from national origin to subject position, where issues of class, gender, language and race most often take precedence.1 In the context of the French-speaking Caribbean,2 literary movements from negritude to Creoleness have forged new discourses on identity and relationships with the other and have become important interventions in French and Caribbean cultural politics. Proponents of these movements (Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau …) have been concerned with providing a critique of policies and practices that contain cultural diversity rather than establishing and promoting diverse cultural traditions, experiences, achievements and values. Indeed, many Caribbean writers and scholars view French nationalism and globalization as harmful to the survival and existence of their island communities, since the critical evaluation of Caribbean cultural creativity and activity will predominantly depend on or operate within international markets whose technologies and ideologies may be governed by external agendas and interests.

In light of these ethical and aesthetic concerns, I shall examine French Caribbean writings and their increasing emphasis on being plural or

____________________
1
For extended treatment of these issues see, Walter D. Mignolo (1994), ‘Are subaltern studies postmodern or postcolonial? The politics and sensibilities of geo-cultural locations’, Dispositio, 19:46, pp. 4573.
2
This study will focus primarily on the French Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.

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