Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview

7 Narration at the Postcolonial Moment: History and Representation in Abeng

Being woman and Antillean is a destiny difficult to untangle. . . . The Antilles is my natural mother and it is with her that I have accounts to settle, like any daughter with her mother, before becoming completely an adult.

-- Maryse Condé

With modernization everything has to be recoded, for now people are on the move away from home territories and genealogies.

-- Jean Franco, Plotting Women

By the time Caribbean literature became a major player in the cultural politics of postcolonialism and postmodernism in the 1980s, the claim that modernity and modernization could lead to a unity of experience, a synthesis of culture, and a unified language of the nation in the formerly colonized spaces was being rigorously questioned. Indeed, after two decades of political independence and economic and cultural dependence, and the increasing influence of modern EuroAmerican discursive practices such as television and film, few people were certain that decolonization constituted a radical disconnection from the European modernist narrative initiated by Columbus and sustained by colonialism. Moreover, if Caribbean discourse during the period of decolonization appropriated the narrative strategies of high modernism to resist an ecumenical European notion of history which imprisoned the Caribbean subject in the realm of the "other" and its

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