Anglophone Caribbean-American Literature
Immigration, not just to the United States but also to other First World nations such as Canada and England, has had a more profound effect on Caribbean cultural production than perhaps anywhere else in the post-colonial world. As the contemporary Jamaican-American writer Michelle Cliff says, "The Caribbean doesn't exist as an entity; it exists all over the world. It started in diaspora and it continues in diaspora" ( Cliff, Interview). Caribbean cultural production within or outside the borders has always engaged the legacy of a brutal 500- year colonial past that saw the decimation of entire groups of indigenous people followed by the forced importation of others--of Africans through slavery and of Asians through indenture processes designed to replace slaves with what was, in effect, bonded labor. Left to negotiate new identities, often vis-à-vis groups of other brutally displaced Third World communities, and often while their African and Asian languages and cultural practices were being eroded through colonial education and forced "acculturation," Caribbean people have, from the start of their history, been violently inserted into a diaspora premised on absence. Post-independence migrations to Europe and North America in the twentieth century have reconfigured this already diasporic culture, scattering it across an even wider terrain. Caribbean literature, immigrant and nonimmigrant, is born of these experiences of erasure, enforced transculturation, and diaspora. The imaginative resilience and power with which it counters these experiences unite an array of Caribbean cultural practices.
This chapter is a broad overview of these practices as developed in the lit-