The "Wounds of Locality": Living and Writing the Local in Patrick Chamoiseau's Ecrire En Pays Domine

By Watts, Richard | French Forum, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

The "Wounds of Locality": Living and Writing the Local in Patrick Chamoiseau's Ecrire En Pays Domine


Watts, Richard, French Forum


In the debate over the place of Caribbean culture in an increasingly interconnected, globalized world, the Martinican writers Edouard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau could be deemed to occupy antithetical positions in spire of their avowed friendship and their numerous cross-citings and collaborative projects. (1) Glissant's concept of Relation, with its insistence on the process of creolization, represents for most critics working on the question of globalization in the Caribbean context an unqualified and salutary openness to the world. Chamoiseau's notion of Creolite or creoleness is, for its part, often cast as a retrograde and reactionary attachment to a fixed, mythologized Creole identity, a root identity. As with all binary oppositions, this one results in a simplification; here, it is Chamoiseau's views on the possibility and necessity of maintaining the notion of locality in an increasingly interconnected world that are subject to reductive readings. My aim here is to read beyond the caricature of Chamoiseau's Creolite, a model for viewing cultural change and fixity that he has been developing over the past fifteen years. I will also show that much of what Chamoiseau has had to say recently on the place of the local in a globalized world complements Glissant's notion of creolization, but does so from a different--which is to say, situated---perspective.

Chamoiseau himself is partly to blame for this reductionism. His manifesto in favor of a Creole literature and culture, Eloge de la creolite, co-written with Jean Bernabe and Raphael Confiant, is the primary source of quotations from Chamoiseau on the question of Martinique's cultural place in the world, and it has been attacked by Caribbean, North American, and French commentators alike for betraying an atavistic attachment to pre-departmentalization Creole culture. In this oft-cited tendency of the Creolite movement, Glissant himself sees the risk of a return to hardened notions of identity: "la 'creolite,' dans son principe, regresserait vers des negritudes, des francites, des latinites ..." (2) Other critics have questioned the manifesto's investment in Creole orality. "Why," asks Derek Walcott in regards to the Eloge, "was it not written in Creole if it is that passionate about authenticity?" He continues, "In the manifesto we hear the really old yearning for naivete, for the purified and primal state of the folk of the virginal countryside with its firefly fables and subdued nobility, in other words Rousseau and Gauguin from the mouths of their subjects, their voluble natives." (3) Although Walcott exaggerates its folkloric impulses, the manifesto's desire to shed itself of French cultural influence in order to retrieve a Creole identity unmarked by recent history is at odds with the idea of Caribbean identity as "open specificity" that is averred elsewhere in Eloge. (4) For her part, the Guadeloupean (or, more accurately, transnational or nomadic) writer Maryse Conde has taken pains to distance herself from what she considers to be the provincialism of the Creolite manifesto and its authors. Conde objects to the manifesto's exclusivist tendencies (e.g., its assertion that the Creolite of Martinique is more significant than that of Haiti or Cuba). For Conde, there are, in fact, many different ways of being Creole, none of which should be privileged or fixed in the way that, in her view, the Eloge attempts. (5)

In an interview with Lucien Taylor, Chamoiseau takes up Conde's criticism directly. He deplores what he deems to be the "self-conscious cosmopolitanism" of Conde's work and goes on to state that "the whole notion that because you're in a diaspora, you're more open than those who've stayed at home is simply ridiculous." (6) Elsewhere in the interview, he insists on the difficulties faced by those who stay (or return) home, those who are not, self-consciously or otherwise, nomadic subjects: "Raphael [Confiant] and I are immersed in our culture: we're rooted in the country, we're never far from harm of one kind or another. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The "Wounds of Locality": Living and Writing the Local in Patrick Chamoiseau's Ecrire En Pays Domine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.