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BRIDGET BRERETON CONTESTING THE PAST: NARRATIVES OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO HISTORY I NTRODUCTION Historians and social scientists agree that nationalisms and national identities, ethnicities and ethnic identities, are all constructed or invented at specific historical conjunctures, and that the creation of narratives about the past is nearly always an important aspect of this process. The recent (June 2006) dec laration by the Florida state legislature that American history as taught in the states schools shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed ... and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence thus flies in the face of decades of academic consensus about how history is written. 1 Every past, every claim to truth about the past, is open to interpretation. As Barry Schwartz (quoted in Johnson 2003: 1 7) has put it, recollecting the past is an active constructive process, not a simple matter of retrieving information. To remember is to place a part of the past in the service of conceptions and needs of the present. All postcolonial states, in particular, have undergone a process of national selfcreation, a process of identity formation involving a recasting of history to produce a usable past as Howard Johnson (2003: 1 ) has said of Jamaica. Nationalisms are invented, and their claims to historical continuity are always expressions of ideological and political concerns, and this is equal l y true of the construction of ethnicities and ethnic narratives. Nations are imaginary constructs that depend for their existence on an apparatus of cultural fictions writes Timothy Brennan ( 1 990:49). The same point is made by T.H. Eriksen ( 1 992:2 1 see also 22-33, 58-59, 1 42-44) in his examination of nationalism in Mauritius and Trinidad & Tobago: Historicism the creation of historical 1. See J.L. Bell, History 101: Floridas Flawed Lesson Plan, on the History News Network, http://hnn.us/articles/28095.html. New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007):169-196
170 BRIDGET BRERETON traditions justifying present practices and beliefs is an important feature of many contexts of ethnicity, as well as nationalism. He argues that Benedict Andersons ( 1 983) seminal concept of nations as imagined communities is nowhere more evidently true than in states, like Trinidad & Tobago, which are colonially created, places with virtually no precolonial past on which to draw for images and traditions (albeit invented) from ancient inhabitants of the national space. In such countries, there can be no depicting of the nation as a primordial community; it must be defined from scratch, as it were. All the newly created national symbols and narratives must struggle to seem cred ible, lacking as they do the ability to draw on hazy collective memories of a rich semi-mythical past (Brennan 1 990:58). As Brennan ( 1 990:49, 58) puts it, postcolonial states are typically chasing a national identity after the fact, that is, after the formal establishment of a nation-state. All national narratives necessarily invoke certain definitions of nationa l, ethnic, racial, and regional identities in an effort to create usable and cred ible histories that legitimate specific political and ideological projects. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to argue that some are better grounded in empirical evidence than others. Moreover, while nationalisms are invented, in the words of Anthony Smith ( 1 986:2 11 ), nations are not fixed and immu table entities out there ... but neither are they completely malleable and fluid processes and attitudes, at the mercy of every outside force. One can accept that all national narratives are cultural fictions and imaginary con structs, yet believe that not all have the same truth value. Postcolonial states typically struggle to create a universalist historical nar rative, a single linear story which captures the whole past of the new nation, presumably the intention of the Florida legislators with respect to the history of the not so new nation they belong to. The historical narratives often produced by ethnic groups or local/regional communities may be seen as a threat to this single narrative. Generally the kind of narrative produced before and after inde pendence by former colonies centers on heroic anticolonial struggles, culminat ing in the attainment of formal nationhood, and usually ignoring or obfuscating internal divisions whether of ethnicity, region, class, or gender. Gert Oostindie (2005: 1 59-7 1 ) has described this kind of history-making in Suriname, a for merly Dutch colony in South America of which the population is even more diverse than that of Trinidad & Tobago. Johnson (2003, 2007) has examined a similar process in Jamaica, where the effort was to replace loyalties to Britain and her empire with a nationalist ethos forged through the creation of an autho rized Jamaican historical narrative with formally enshrined national heroes; while in Barbados, the minister of education in 200 1 (quoted in Beckles et al. 200 1 :6) hoped that the earlier ( 1 998) declaration of such heroes there would show there is a distinct Barbadian, irrespective of colour, class or religion. 2 2 See also Eriksen 1 992:58-67, Nanton 2007.
171 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y But the emergence of ethnic or regionalist narratives, especially in highly pluralist societies like Suriname, Mauritius, and Trinidad & Tobago, would inevitably destabilize the linear nationalist histories created around the time of independence to counter the older colonialist versions.CO L ONI AL I S T NA RR A TI V E S Trinidad & Tobago may be said to have generated not one, but two hegemonic historical narratives during the colonial era (Brereton 1 999:580-90). First, there was the normal British type of colonial or imperial history, concentrating on the conquest of the larger island from Spain in 1 797, and the settlement of the smaller one from 1 763, and the development of plantation agriculture and later the oil industry by British capital and management. Of course this kind of his tory focused on the deeds of British soldiers and sailors, governors and other officials, planters and entrepreneurs, and had a distinct leaning to problems of colonial government and constitution-making. This narrative line may be said to have started with the publication in 1 838 of E.L. Josephs history (the first book-length study of Trinidads past) and to have ended with Gertrude Carmichaels narrative which appeared in 1 96 1 just before independence. But it must be admitted that the British imperial narrative for Trinidad and (though to a lesser extent) Tobago is distinctly thin, not to say weak, in compar ison say with Barbados or Jamaica. No doubt this reflects Trinidads late entry into the British Empire ( 1 797, compared with 1 627 for Barbados and 1 655 for Jamaica), its foreign (Spanish and French) character, and the fact that it was never really an arena for heroic deeds of warfare once the island had been captured and that without serious resistance. Tobago could boast of a period when she was fought over by various European powers, including Britain, so the imperial narrative tended to be stronger, and longer, for that island than for Trinidad. The members of the Trinidad colonial elite who were most commit ted to the imperial narrative were, not surprisingly, the white Creoles of English descent. During the middle decades of the nineteenth century, they engaged in various culture wars with the more numerous elites of foreign (French, Spanish, Corsican) ancestry, on issues such as religion and the position of the Catholic Church, education, language, and legal traditions. Their aim was to support the colonial governments program of anglicization and to stake out a claim as the natural leaders of society in a British colony. We find them, for example, organizing high-profile celebrations in 1 897 of the centenary of British rule, an event that was regarded with much more ambivalence by the foreign descended elites (Wood 1 968; Brereton 1 999:58 1 584). But early there appeared a second colonialist history, which I call the French Creole narrative. Trinidad was never a French colony (unlike Tobago, which was under French rule from 1781 to 1793 and again briefly
172 BRIDGET BRERETON from 1802 to 1803), but immigrants from the French Antilles, France, and Corsica in the last quarter of the eighteenth century (and later) were responsi ble for developing the island as a plantation economy and a slave society, and their descendants became the main local landowning elite in the nineteenth century. The French Creole narrative was their story. It can be regarded as the first of the ethnic histories, but clearly it was both hegemonic (an elite narrative) and counterhegemonic in some respects, as a version of the past distinct from, and often critical of, the British colonial one. The French Creole narrative received its first classic expression in the historical work by P.G.L. Borde, first published in French in 1 876 and 1 883. He wrote his history of Trinidad under Spain (i.e. up to 1 797) to draw atten tion to the colonization of a Spanish island by a French population (unique in history), and thus to revive the honour of our [French] ancestors. For Borde, an impoverished and deserted island, blighted by Spanish neglect, was transformed into a prosperous and civilized society by industrious and noble French settlers and their descendants. These settlers were eulogized by Borde as energetic, hard-working, cultured pioneers, devoted to their new home and their estates carved out of the wilderness. Many were members of the prerevolutionary nobility; those who were not were still accustomed to command because of slavery, and formed in Trinidad a veritable aris tocracy of skin which conceded nothing in distinction to the aristocracy of blood. These were the people who, coming to a desert and unproductive island, created a flourishing agriculture and a brilliant commerce in just a few years (1783-1797). We, who are the children of this country, wrote Borde, have a sacred duty to render honour and thanks to these energetic pioneers (quoted in Brereton 1 995:37-48; see also Brereton 1 999:58 1 -82). An important element in the French Creole narrative related to slavery; though the French settlers were not the first to use enslaved African labor in Trinidad, they did transform the island into a slave society and were the main slave-owning group. The French Creole view of slavery in Trinidad was that it was exceptional: a mild, benevolent system run by patriarchal planters who managed their own estates in person with a judicious combination of kind ness and firmness. The enslaved were like grown children who had been handed over to their masters for instruction, according to Borde, and this comparison is far from imaginary, as they formed part of the families of their masters. Slave children were raised in the great houses along with the white family, and life-long attachments were the result. Thanks to the benevolence of the French planters, conditions were actually paternal in Trinidad, and the slaves showed no resentment, no desire for vengeance. This view of the exceptionalism of slavery in Trinidad reminiscent of similar arguments about Brazil associated with the Brazilian scholar Gilberto Freyre has been an especially long-lasting dimension of the French Creole narrative (quoted in Brereton 1 995:42-43; Dos Santos Gomes 200 1 :77-82).
173 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y This narrative focused on the pioneering activities of the French during the years between the Cedula of 1783, which encouraged their immigration to the Spanish colony, and the British capture in 1 797. But it continued to tell the story of the French Creoles after 1 797, a story of oppression and margin alization under the British regime. Under British governors, but especially in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, an Anglicization policy was embarked on, through which the pioneers of settlement and civilization were pushed aside: many lost their sugar estates to British capitalists and sank into genteel poverty; they were excluded from the legislature and from government posts; campaigns of persecution against Roman Catholics and foreigners were mounted. Through sacrifice and hard work, the French Creoles endured these various kinds of oppression, and built up the cocoa industry after around 1870 as the basis for their return to prosperity and the basis for Trinidads solid economy in the late nineteenth century when so many other Caribbean islands were in deep depression. Through their skills and hard work, they built up their cocoa estates and established businesses, and emerged in the twentieth century as the true native, rooted in the island, aristocracy, playing a full role in the expansion of the islands commerce, industry, and land development (Brereton 1 998:32-70). As Trinidad entered the period of decolonization and nationalism in the mid-twentieth century, the French Creoles (and by now the term was gen erally applied to all locally born Whites, not specifically to persons of French ancestry) considered that they were being again marginalized, if not actually persecuted and demonized, by the anticolonial party which formed the government in 1956 the Peoples National Movement (PNM) under Eric Williams. His rhetoric of Massa Day Done, his evident hostility to the old French Creole elite, his concern for the black majority who had voted for him, his attempts at redistributive justice, all destabilized the French Creole narrative. Today if it continues at all it is a story of local Whites being pushed to the margins of the nation, no longer even an economic elite (overtaken by Syrian/Lebanese, Chinese, and Indian entrepreneurs), without political clout, without any cultural status, national recognition through spe cial public holidays or Arrival Days, or memorials to the pioneers. Perhaps it is, in fact, the end of the narrative: the disappearance of the French Creoles as a distinct group, the psychic if not physical eradication of local Whites in the national fabric. These themes are powerfully conveyed in a 2003 video on the French Creoles of Trinidad, evocatively titled Cest Quitte (its over), a nostalgic lament for a disappearing elite (Ryan 1 999:239-40). 3 3 The video Cest Quitte: The French Creoles of Trinidad was made by Alex de Verteuil, a member of Trinidads leading French Creole clan, in 2003. The French Creole narrative is also reflected in many of Anthony de Verteuils valuable books on Trinidads social history.
174 BRIDGET BRERETON TH E AF RO-CREO L E NA RR A TI V E Both colonialist narratives were challenged, around the time of independence, as part of the search for a past which could help create a sense of nationalism, a process which (as we have noted) was commonplace throughout the rap idly decolonizing world in the 1 950s and 1 960s. This was generally the work of local intellectuals and academics, as well as foreign historians, as the writ ing of history in the former colonies became more professionalized, passing out of the hands of the gentry and the amateurs. In Trinidad & Tobago, the leader in this process was both an academic and statesman: Eric Williams, an Oxford-educated Ph.D. in history, founder of the PNM and unquestionably the dominant politician in the country between 1956 and his death in 1981. His History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago first published in 1 962 as an independence gift to the new nation, became the iconic text of what can fairly be described as the anticolonial, Afro-Creole narrative. In his introduction to the 1 964 edition, Williams ( 1 964:vii) wrote, Colo nial nationalism, in India, Africa and elsewhere, has given high priority to the rewriting of the history purveyed by metropolitan scholars, and to writing that history where the metropolitan country has ignored or by-passed it. The very fact of National Independence, therefore, made this history of Trinidad and Tobago mandatory. And in the foreword to the original 1962 publica tion, he stated that the books primary objective was to encourage unity and to defeat the racial divisions caused by colonialism, to make a colony into a nation. It was a National History, a phrase he repeats several times in the brief foreword, a manifesto of a subjugated people ... the Declaration of Independence of the united people of Trinidad and Tobago written by an academic historian who was also a party politician and the first prime minis ter of the new nation (Williams 1 962:viii). This influential book, a brilliant, highly original, at times polemical essay, is above all an anticolonial history. Its central theme is the devastation wrought on the two islands by four centuries of colonialism, Spanish, British, and French, and the peoples struggles to overcome that legacy. Trinidad suf fered from the bankruptcy of Spanish colonialism (the title of Chapter 3) and then neglect and contempt from the British under the Crown Colony sys tem. Tobago, after suffering from a state of betweenity (the title of Chapter 6) when she was fought over in the seventeenth century by several powers, fell into the hands of the British who were responsible for her long eco nomic decline in the nineteenth century, which in turn led to her annexation to Trinidad at the end of that century. At several points in the book, Williams pauses the narrative to attack racist writings about Africans by European and other intellectuals, and to demolish them. As he wrote in his conclusion, all the ethnic groups in the new nation had been victims of the same subor dination, all have been tarred with the same brush of political inferiority ...
175 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y All have been maligned for centuries the Amerindians as subhuman, the Africans as closer to the ape ... the Indians as savages ... the Chinese as a pas sive people and a negative element (Williams 1964:278, see also Williams 1 962:30-39, 861 2 1 1 67-95). But this was not only an anticolonial history; it was also the most influ ential expression of the Afro-Creole narrative of Trinidad & Tobagos past. The book projected the clear view that people of African or part-African descent Creoles in local terminology were the most important constitu ent group in the nation, the core Trinidadians (for Tobagonians, though overwhelmingly African, were not seen as entirely part of that core). The core Trinidadian culture was creole culture, associated with that group; the people who would, and should, inherit the political kingdom when the colonialists left were the Creoles. These assumptions, very often unexam ined, were held by most Trinidadians of African or mixed descent; as C.L.R. James (mentor, colleague and then political opponent of Williams) once put it, they felt that Trinidad, as part of the Caribbean, is predominantly their field of operation (Singh 1993:102). In 1962, the Creoles constituted the single largest group in the national population, but the Afro-Creole narrative was not the product of simple majority demography. Williams himself, of course, was of African descent (with some French Creole blood too), and the party he led to power in 1 956, the PNM, had a mainly Creole voting base though its rhetoric and literature were always nationalistic rath e r than ethnic. But the Afro-Creole narrative was not simply the product of party politics either. It came from a view of Trinidads history which saw the descendants of the slaves, and of the free Blacks and Coloureds, as the people who had been in the island for the longest time, who had suffered from slavery and endured the ordeal of free labor, who had produced educated leaders in the twentieth-century fight for self-government and trade unionism, who had forged the indigenous cultural forms of the island and who enjoyed the moral and historical right to succeed the British in the governance of the new nation. This view of the countrys history is clearly expressed in its iconic text. The enslavement of the Africans is seen as the formative event in the two islands past, and, of course, Williams rejects the French Creole idea that slavery was peculiarly benign and paternalist in Trinidad. After emancipation in the 1830s, the central story was the struggle of the former slaves against a racist and uncaring colonial state. Williams devotes considerable space to demolishing racist views about Africans, and to defending the ex-slaves from the attacks on them by nineteenth-century British writers. The chapter that deals with indentured Indian immigration is titled The Contribution of the Indians: as late arrivals they made a contribution to the society but were not part of its core, constituting group. While this chapter is a powerful narrative of the degradation and oppression of the indentureds, it certainly
176 BRIDGET BRERETON offers no positive view of Indian culture; it tries to link their presence to technological retardation in the sugar industry (a dubious argument), and it approvingly quotes, at great length, the anti-immigration speech by the African-Trinidadian legislator C.P. David in 1 904. Needless to say, the culmi nation of the whole narrative is the emergence of the PNM, with its strongly Creole voting base and a leadership which was largely (though never exclu sively) African-Trinidadian, and its achievements in office between 1 956 and 1962. Among those achievements was a cultural renaissance, the flowering of native forms of culture, calypso, steelband, carnival, folk dances and songs all forms associated primarily with African-Trinidadians (Williams 1 964:30-39, 861 2 1 1 67-95, 242-77). The Afro-Creole narrative, as expressed by Williams, was also strongly nationalist. Its message was that all the other ethnic groups were part of the new nation and must suppress their unique cultures in the interest of nationbuilding. In a famous and much-quoted paragraph, he wrote, Only together can they build a society, can they build a nation, can they build a homeland. There can be no Mother India ... no Mother Africa ... no Mother England ... no Mother China ... no Mother Syria or no Mother Lebanon. A nation, like an individual, can have only one Mother. The only Mother we recognise is Mother Trinidad and Tobago, and Mother cannot discriminate between her children. Williams cautioned his fellow Creoles that the Trinidad and Tobago society is living a lie and heading for trouble if it seeks to create the impression or allow others to act under the delusion that Trinidad and Tobago is an African society (Williams 1964:279). Yet the message that it was the other ethnicities that would need to subsume their cultures into the national creole matrix was clear enough. The very last words of his book are an appeal to the people to work toward building the nation, because this will be their final emancipation from slavery, this will be their final demonstra tion that slavery is not by nature and that the humblest antecedents are not inconsistent with greatness of soul (Williams 1964:282). It was surely an ethnic as well as a nationalist appeal; or, rather, they were the same in the Afro-Creole narrative (Williams 1 964:279, 282). It seems fair to state that the Afro-Creole nationalist narrative, given classic expression in Williamss iconic text, became the hegemonic narra tive of Trinidad & Tobagos past in the decades after 1962, the framework for academic and non-academic works on the countrys history (Brereton 1 999:586-90). 4 Outside the domain of history writing, there can be no doubt that the cultural symbols of the new nation in this period were drawn pri marily from the African or Creole matrix. As the Norwegian anthropologist T.H. Eriksen ( 1 992: 1 22) put it in 1 992, every Trinidadian knows that public 4 I would include here my own general history of Trinidad (Brereton 1 98 1 ), as well as Donald Woods ( 1 968) classic on nineteenth-century Trinidad. See also Trotman 2006.
177 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y Trinidad is strongly dominated by cultural symbols and emblems associated with black New World culture (Eriksen 1 992: 1 22, 1 29, 1 47-50). Trinidadian (but not really Tobagonian) national identity was closely linked with cultural forms associated with Creoles; these were the forms which were recognized as authentic and national, by the state and by majority public opinion. These forms, Afro-Creole rather than African, were seen as the core, defin ing culture of the nation: carnival, calypso, steelband music, Christmas and Easter, Best Village and parang. They were relentlessly promoted by the state in tourism-oriented propaganda as the national culture, as Raymond Ramcharitar (2006) points out, making the core of nationalism a complex associated primarily with an ethnic group (and, arguably, with a particular political party which was in power without a break from 1956 to 1986). Moreover, Afro-Creoles by and large saw themselves as more Trinidadian than anyone else, as people with a sense of stronger rights to the country because of their prior arrival and longer residence, because their culture was promoted as national, because their party controlled the state. It is the same in Suriname, where the Creoles refer to themselves as us Surinamese and use an ethnic denominator for the others (Hindustani, Javanese and others) (Oostindie 2005:72-73). The Afro-Creole historical narrative helped to shape (and was shaped by) a hegemonic understanding of what was Trinidadian, what was national, and what was other. 5CHALL ENGE S TO T H E AF RO-CREO L E NA RR A TI V EAlmost from the moment that Williamss iconic text appeared, but especial l y from the late 1960s, there were efforts to interrogate and destabilize the Afro-Creole narrative of the nations history. It was a narrative which tend e d to marginalize significant groups: the indigenous people (the Caribs), Tobagonians, Indo-Trinidadians, and even the African (as opposed to the Creole) element in the national culture. In the processes of culture wars common to poly-ethnic states like Trinidad & Tobago, the past was contested in order to make claims for the present and the future. The alternative or oppositional narratives which emerged generally developed in the domain of public history rather than in formal historiography, and academic histori ans were not necessarily significantly involved in their generation. The rest of this paper, which discusses four such alternative narratives, is concerned with this kind of public production of knowledge about the nations past rather than academic history writing. I should also note that I have made no attempt to study imaginative literature, especially novels, as sources for narratives of the nation; of course, I recognize the key role of this literature 5 See also Ryan 1 999:229-3 1
178 BRIDGET BRERETON in creating nationalisms, but that is another project. Nor have I considered popular music, especially calypso, as creator and vehicle for alternative nar ratives, the subject of a fascinating recent article by David Trotman. 6 The Politics of Indigeneity In virtually all accounts of Trinidad & Tobagos history, it is taken for grant e d that the nation has no indigenous population, that the aborigines wheth er they were Caribs or Arawaks, both or neither had disappeared by the nineteenth century and played no role in the islands modern develop ment. The literature of the nineteenth and the twentieth century pronounced the absence of the indigenes. Using the powerful tropes of extinction and amalgamation, writers of all persuasions saw the full-blooded Amerindian as entirely lacking in the nations pluralist society and aboriginal culture as lost forever. As the anthropologist Maximilian Forte neatly puts it, the view was that the only real Carib is a pure Carib, and the only pure Carib is a dead Carib (Forte 2005: 1 2 1 see also 111 -32). The nation was seen as one of those states which were colonial creations, lacking any pre-European past, mod ern from the beginning of their colonial experience, and therefore lacking a primordial past on which to draw for images and symbols of nationalism. In this Trinidad & Tobago was different from Guyana and Suriname on the con tinental mainland, which both have significant Amerindian populations which have retained much of their cultures and languages (Eriksen 1 992: 1 42-44). Since the early 1 990s, mainly through the efforts of an organization based in Arima (an old town in northeastern Trinidad where surviving indigenes were concentrated in the late 1700s), the Santa Rosa Carib Community (SRCC), Trinidad & Tobago society has come to recognize the Amerindian/Carib as a valid symbol in nation-building and national identity politics. The result has been, in Fortes words (2005:133), increased recognition of the Carib in narratives of national history. To acknowledge the Amerindian presence helped to create a sense of local primordiality and of territorial continuity with antiquity. The wider society has rediscovered its Carib heritage, and has accepted the First People (an internationally used term increasingly deployed by the SRCC) as the nations territorial precursors and symbolic ancestors, even if not the biological ancestors of most modern Trinidadians. This is a development which, by restoring the indigenes to the national his tory, has given antiquity and chronological depth to the concept of the nation, symbolized by the now popular trope of the First People/Trinidadians. The Carib can also be seen as the first to struggle against colonialism. The shad owy figure of Hyarima, perhaps a Carib chief who fought the Spaniards 6 For imaginative literature, see Harney 1 996, which, despite its title, deals exclusively with Trinidad & Tobago authors. For calypso, see Trotman 2007.
179 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y in the mid-seventeenth century, can be enshrined as a hero of resistance; a statue of him has been erected in Arima which bears a plaque calling him the first national hero of Trinidad. The tragic episode in 1699, when a group of Amerindians in the Spanish Capuchin Mission at Arena (now San Rafael) murdered the priests and then the governor and his suite, only to be hunted down and killed, or captured, tortured, and executed, can be reinterpreted as an epic of resistance to colonial rule and forced conversion, rather than the horrific murder of noble Catholic martyrs. A recent editorial in one of the nations leading newspapers describes the site of this event as the forest in Arena where 300 years ago, the First People of Trinidad made their last great stand against domination and injustice. 7 The commemoration of 1992 (the quincentenary of Columbuss arrival in the Americas) and 1998 (he sighted Trinidad and Tobago in 1498) also helped to fix the Amerindian/Carib as a central figure in the foundation of the national society. 8 The SRCC has pursued the invention of tradition with considerable suc cess since about 1 990. Traditional festivals and practices connected to them, shamanistic ceremonies developed from several different sources what Forte calls global neo-shamanic transfers crafts, building techniques, healing practices, and food culture have all been revived, invented, and mar keted as authentic Amerindian/Carib folkways. Moreover, the SRCC leaders have successfully forged international linkages with indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and South America (especially Guyana), in Canada and the United States, and globally, to strengthen the legitimacy of their identity as recognized aboriginal people. The use of First Peoples/Nations is a hallmark of this globalizing process, similar in many respects to the globalization of various Diasporas in recent years. The SRCC has also shrewdly developed strong links with the political elite, enjoying an especially close affiliation with the PNM, which is in power at the time of writing, but also with the two other parties which governed between 1 9861 99 1 and 1 995-200 1 Partly for this reason, partly because the individuals who self-identify as Amerindian/Carib are very few numerically, partly precisely because of their status as indigenes, the people who were always here, the SRCCs activities and claims have not been seen as a threat either to the nationalist narrative, or to the ethnic projects whether Afrocentric or Indocentric. Certainly, however, they have succeeded in rewriting the Amerindian peoples into the national narrative of Trinidad (Tobago is only marginally part of their discourse). This success is reflected in a local newspaper editorial which recently declared its never too late to pay tribute to the First Peoples of the nation. They were the ones who had to 7 See the editorial in the Trinidad Guardian September 23, 2006, p. 28. 8 De Verteuil 1 995; Forte 2005:38, 1 33-42; Elie 2006; Norville 2007; Trinidad Guardian 2006, and the public lecture by P. Elie The Arena Massacre: The Untold Story given in Port of Spain, May 2007.
180 BRIDGET BRERETON bear the brunt of the initial bruising encounter with an invading culture and the peoples decimated in the largest number and perhaps most brutal manner by the discoverers (Forte 2005: 1 8 1 -97, 1 99-2 1 3, 224 ). 9 The Tobago Narrative Tobagos territorial extent and, especially, its population are much smaller than Trinidads, to which it was united by imperial fiat in the late 1800s. It has always been marginal in the united colonys and the independent nations economic and political development. The island was a separate British colony, with two brief periods of French rule, from 1 763 to 1 889, and this history as an independent colony, along with the geographical separation, lies behind the Tobago narrative. Very important, too, in creating a separate Tobago eth nicity (and therefore a separate narrative) is the fact that demographically and socially, the island is quite different from Trinidad. Tobagos people are overwhelmingly of African descent, with small groups of local Whites and mixed-race individuals; the few Indians are quite recent arrivals from Trinidad. The poly-ethnic character of the larger island is not to be found in Tobago. Culturally, nearly everyone in Tobago is a Christian, the great majority Protestants (Anglicans, Methodists, Moravians, Pentecostals); the cultural mix is African-British, with virtually no influences from Spain or France, unlike Trinidad. Until recently, Tobago was a strongly rural, villagebased, peasant society. Though this has changed rapidly over the last twenty years or so, the value systems and cultural forms which were created in the peasant villages remain the core of the Tobagonian sense of identity. And this identity, certainly in the second half of the twentieth century, was constructed largely in opposition to Trinidad, Tobagos Other far more than British colonialism seems to be. The Tobago historical narrative is, not surprisingly, primarily a narrative of Tobago and Trinidad or Tobago oppressed by Trinidad. It has been constructed by prominent Tobago-born intellectu als and politicians, notably A.N.R. Robinson, first chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly (1980) and later both prime minister and then president of Trinidad & Tobago, and C.R. Ottley, civil servant and historian.1 0 The narrative begins in the seventeenth century, when Tobago was fought over (a favorite phrase) by several European powers attempting to 9 See also the editorial in the Trinidad Guardian September 23, 2006, p. 28. For an interesting discussion of rather similar identity construction and claims by the present-day Jamaican Maroons, see Bilby 2006, especially pp. 4 11 1 6. 1 0. The generic Tobago narrative that follows is based on: Williams 1964:149-50; Ottley 1 969, 1 973; Robinson 1 97 1 :3-44, 1 986: 1 97-227, 242-43, 2004:4 1 -5 1 62-78, 3 1 317, 34-52; Premdas 1998:97-123; Ryan 1999:243-51; Luke 2006:248-66; R. Dumas, Case for the Tobago Nation Trinidad Guardian April 1 3, 2007, p. 23.
181 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y establish colonies there. It was considered a highly desirable prize, a jewel; major naval engagements were fought in its waters; it was a significant fac tor in Great Power international diplomacy. So fierce was the competition that eventually the powers agreed to leave it as a neutral island (1748). Once it was ceded to Britain in 1763, a period of rapid development fol lowed. Sugar plantations were established, and the small island became a major producer of the most important Caribbean staple. Its great prosperity peaked in the 1790s and early 1800s, when the phrase as rich as a Tobago planter was proverbial in Britain. Perhaps surprisingly, the narrative tends to downplay the fact that this short-lived prosperity was based on the brutal enslavement of thousands of Africans. Soon after 1 763, Tobago was granted colonial self-government, meaning a legislature which included an elected Assembly, whose members were voted for by white, landowning, Protestant men. It retained this representative form of government from 1768 to 1874 at a time when Trinidads legislature had no elected members at all. Tobago, therefore, had been a rich island, fought over by the powers; it had enjoyed government by an elected legislature as a separate colony. These points constitute the foundation of the Tobago narrative. Sugar production began to decline well before emancipation in the 1 830s, but it was especially in the decades between the 1830s and the 1880s that the sugar estates collapsed, the result of mismanagement by impoverished British planters, neglect from the metropolitan government, and competition from other cane or beet producers. Tobagos prosperity was over. She sank into the status of a wretchedly poor peasant island. Her elected Assembly was abolished by Britain and she became a mere crown colony (which Trinidad had always been). The final humiliation came in the 1 880s and 1 890s: she was annexed to Trinidad in two stages. The first stage (1889) was bear able because Tobago retained a subordinate legislature and some control over finance in the newly created Colony of Trinidad & Tobago. But the second (1899) was the crowning blow: she became a Ward (administrative district) of Trinidad & Tobago, with the same status as the other Wards in the larger island. And, as Robinson bitterly pointed out on many occasions, this was understood by virtually all Trinidadians as Tobago becoming a ward (infe rior dependent) of Trinidad. (Even Williams, in his influential history, wrote that Tobago became a ward of Trinidad.) After 1 899, the narrative paints a picture of oppression and neglect, both from British colonialism, and from the legislature and elites in Trinidad. Tobagos special needs were consistently ignored, the development of her infrastructure lagged decades behind Trinidads (no electricity until 1 952, no secondary school until the 1 920s), her farmers received no help, sea commu nications between the islands were grossly inadequate. Socially, Trinidadians regarded Tobagonians as country bumpkins, unsophisticated rustics; for a civil servant to be transferred to Tobago was a dreaded exile (or punishment).
182 BRIDGET BRERETON The efforts of A.P.T. James, Tobagos elected representative in the Trinidad & Tobago legislature between 1 946 and 1 96 1 to champion his islands needs were ignored or treated with contempt. Both Ottley and (needless to say) Williams claimed that this period of abysmal neglect of Tobago ended with the first PNM government ( 1 9561 96 1 ). Certainly the early PNM govern ments did make efforts to develop the islands infrastructure, especially after a devastating hurricane in 1 963. But, in general, the narrative continues with neglect, oppression, and spite politics directed by the government against Tobagonians when they voted for Robinsons anti-PNM party in 1 976. The campaign for a devolved or subordinate separate legislature for Tobago began, as an alternative to full-fledged secession; led by Robinson, it suc ceeded in 1 980 with the establishment of the Tobago House of Assembly. A measure of self-government and representation had been restored to Tobago, though relations between the Tobago House of Assembly and the national government did not run smoothly. The counterpart to the narrative of neglect and oppression by Trinidad is the eulogy to Tobagos traditional values and lifestyles, a core theme in expressions of island identity. Tobago was/is a village-based society, where face-to-face relationships, family or clan ties, village loyalties, and church affiliations matter far more than in urban, industrialized Trinidad. Strongly entrenched, African traditions of co-operation and self-help allowed impoverished peasants to survive and even prosper, albeit modestly. Land ownership was a core value; so was hard work, respect for elders, preachers and teachers, close ties to extended kin, active church membership. A proud peasant society made Tobagonians morally superior to the sophisticated, cor rupt, clever Trickydadians. This trope nostalgic in many ways since the society on which the values system was based was rapidly disappearing in the late twentieth century underpinned the claim to a separate ethnic identity. It also underpinned the Tobago narrative which challenged the Afro-Creole, essentially Trinidadian, hegemonic interpretation of the nations past. 11 The Afrocentric Narrative It was, perhaps, the Black Power movement of the late 1960s-1970s which first challenged the orthodox narrative and the Creole value system that supported it. In the political domain, its leaders accused Williams and the 11 For a rare critique of the Tobago narrative, see the Tobago-born intellectual Morgan Job (2005:88-90). He argues that the constant harping on about the nineteenth-century Assembly or Tobagos independence and self-government before union with Trinidad was historically false, because it was a racist, unrepresentative, anti-African House of Assembly, and of no use to todays Tobagonians, victims (in his view) of poverty, AIDS, ignorance, and poor leadership.
183 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y PNM of being stooges of neocolonialism rather than heroes of the anticolo nial struggle for independent nationhood. In the cultural domain, they com plained that the PNM denigrated African elements in the creole mix, that the hegemonic culture was Afro-Saxon rather than African. The movement triggered a lively public discourse on values, ideology, and history (Eriksen 1 992: 1 77; Ryan 1 999:229-3 1 ). To create a full-fledged Afrocentric narrative of Trinidad & Tobagos past presented peculiar difficulties which did not exist, say, in Jamaica. First, there was demography: people of African descent were no longer in the majority by the close of the last century; they were not even the single largest group (Africans and Indians each constitute around 40 percent of the national population). Second, the hegemonic Afro-Creole narrative did foreground the Creoles, the descendants of the slaves and the free Coloreds/ Blacks, as the core of the national population and culture, even though it was a mixed sort of culture which was celebrated. Third, even the Tobago narrative, coming out of an island whose people are overwhelmingly African, was based on an insular rather than an ethnic identity, underpinned by a sense of Tobago uniqueness rather than negritude. Finally, unlike for example Suriname with its distinctive Maroon community whose culture remained strongly African, and whose unique sense of history and identity was forged in their successful military struggle against slavery and the colo nial world, Trinidad does not have a past of heroic, violent slave rebellions. Despite these difficulties, we can observe the emergence of an Afrocentric narrative which makes claims distinct from those of the Afro-Creole one, notwithstanding many inevitable similarities. This narrative sees slavery as the formative experience of the nations past, and stresses the brutality of the institution and the massive damage it wrought on the descendants of the enslaved up to the present. Of course, it rejects the French Creole myth that slave-owners were benign and pater nalist and that the Trinidad experience was exceptional or special, just as Afrocentric writers have done, say, in Brazil and Cura ao. Far from being the basically contented and submissive subjects of benevolent masters, as the French Creole narrative had it, the enslaved struggled constantly against their subjugation. The enslaved were heroic rebels whose resistance, wheth e r violent or by other modes, was the prototype for later national struggles after the end of slavery. The leaders of slave rebellions (where they could be iden tified) became the heroes of an epic story. Of course this has happened every where in the Caribbean and Brazil: Nanny of the Maroons and Sam Sharpe in Jamaica, Bussa in Barbados, Kofi in Guyana, the Surinamese Maroon leaders of the eighteenth century, Zumbi dos Palmares in Brazil have all undergone this transformation into national heroes. Sandy, the leader of a major slave uprising in Tobago in 1770, might be the closest equivalent for
184 BRIDGET BRERETON Trinidad & Tobago, and Tobago, unlike the larger island, does have a history of several significant rebellions between 1 770 and 1 802.1 2After the abolition of slavery in the 1 830s, the Afrocentric narrative focus e s on the struggles and sufferings of the emancipated people and their descendants. The ex-slaves received no land or other forms of compensation their owners received a large sum of money from Britain as compensa tion for loss of property and the local authorities did all they could to stop them from purchasing state-owned lands. An important aspect of the narrative is the idea that all the Indians received free grants of land on the expiry of their indentures, allowing them to become landowners while the Africans were given no grants and were prevented wherever possible from buying plots with their savings. (This is only partly true: the ex-indentureds received free grants of land for only a few years, 1 8691 880, and most of the lands obtained by the Indians were purchased by them.) Partly through deliberate efforts by the imperial and local authorities, partly because of the massive psychological damage wrought by slavery, the narrative continues, Afro-Trinidadians entered the twentieth century still largely impoverished, landless, and barely educated.1 3 A major theme is the relentless effort of the colonial authorities to suppress African cultural and religious forms, and the equally relentless (and ultimately successful) resistance by the people in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The focus here is on those forms which are more clearly African rather than creole. The heroic struggle of the Spiritual/Shouter Baptists against persecution resonates well with the Afrocentric narrative. This group, whose members have always been overwhelmingly Afro-Trinidadians, combined African beliefs and rituals with elements of Protestant (Baptist) faith. They were harassed by the authorities, stereotyped as adherents of Obeah (African sorcery) and devil worship. After 1 9 1 7 the faith was criminalized through a law prohibiting any public Shouter worship, and though this was repealed in 1 95 1 the colonial anti-Obeah laws were never repealed. Yet the Shouters, nearly all poor and lacking much formal education, struggled to defend and preserve their faith, and triumphed over adversity to become a large, legiti mate religious denomination today. In the words of one of their leaders, it took determination and strength on the part of Black people to see us through those days (quoted in Ryan 1 999:2 1 7). Perhaps even more than the Shouters, 1 2. Dos Santos Gomes 200 1 :77-82; Johnson 2003: 1 51 6; 2007; Oostindie 2005:69, 1 59. For an interesting case study of how slavery has been remembered in modern Guyana, see Thompson 2006. 1 3. Morgan Job (2005:52-53, 67-68) claims that the populist myth that all Indians received grants of land, while Africans were denied this, fueled the PNM governments distribution of state land to Afro-Trinidadian farmers after 1962, and the PNMs affirmative programme for Afro-Trinidadians embarked on after 1 970.
185 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y whose beliefs after all are essentially syncretic (and therefore creole), the Orisha faith is important to the Afrocentric narrative. This faith is derived from Yoruba religion, and though in Trinidad some Christian and Hindu elements crept in, it is far more clearly a neo-African religion than the Shouters. Even more than them, Orisha devotees were accused of practising Obeah, and several were convicted and jailed for this offence under the colonial laws; they were all stereotyped as devil worshippers and sorcerers. Their struggle to preserve the faith through persecution and contempt to attain its presentday legitimacy, according to a prominent (and high-profile) adherent, repre sents the explicit articulation of this African religious presence in our land (quoted in Ryan 1 999:2 1 9). Some leaders, especially a few highly educated Afrocentric individuals who are now associated with the Orisha faith, believe it is time to purge its Christian and Hindu elements and to return to its original African purity, now that there is no need to hide or mask its beliefs and rituals (Ryan 1 999:2 1 6-2 1 ). In general, of course, this narrative celebrates everything in the national culture past or present which can be seen as African: drumming and African stick-fighting and related forms of song and dance; calypso which is claimed to be the direct descendant of West African song genres; and Canboulay and traditional types of carnival bands and performances rather than the mod ern Trinidad Carnival which is distinctly oriented now to the local middle classes and the tourists. The activists who have organized public celebrations of Emancipation Day over the last twenty years (the Emancipation Support Committee) have chosen to foreground a Kanbule procession as their main element, championing an African identity for the nation by using a putative Koongo (Congo) derivation and spelling of what is more usually rendered as Canboulay. (This was a noisy, torchlight procession of Afro-Trinidadian men, often featuring ritualized conflict between rival bands, which was staged on the Sunday night before Carnival Monday in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, and was suppressed by the colonial authorities in 1881-1884.) The Afrocentric narrative rejects the trope of mixing and cul tural fusion which is at the heart of the Afro-Creole one. The nationalist slo gans of all ah we is one, or (to use the more formal English of the Jamaican national motto) out of many, one people, do not resonate well with this narrative; still less does Williamss appeal that there should be no Mother Africa (or any other Mother). As with Afrocentric intellectuals in Brazil or Jamaica, the master narrative of mixture or metissage is replaced with one that puts Afro-Trinidadians and their cultural heritage firmly at the center of the national history (Sansone 200 1 :88-89; Johnson 2003: 1 51 6). Trinidad & Tobago does not yet have, in my view, a fully developed Afrocentric narrative, clearly distinguished from the hegemonic Afro-Creole one, though the elements for its construction are in place. No full-fledged Afrocentric history of the nation, comparable to that on Jamaica by Sherlock
186 BRIDGET BRERETON and Bennett, has yet appeared. Nevertheless the main lines of the narrative have clearly entered the nations public discourse. In its more extreme form, it can translate into overt hostility to claims for equality made by the other major ethnic group, Indo-Trinidadians. Thus the chairman of the National Association for the Empowerment of African People (a recently formed Trinidad & Tobago body) has stated, at a high-profile public function, all the turmoil that we see in our society today not only represents a relentless struggle on the part of the East Indians to dominate the society; it also sug gests that the agents of their group are prepared to utilise any means be they legal, political, academic or religious to achieve ethnic dominance that con stitutes the essence of the conflict that we see in Trinidad and Tobago today. It should be noted that few, if any other Afrocentric thinkers in Trinidad & Tobago have publicly expressed such a view. It remains to be seen if the national commemoration of the abolition of the British transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, in 2007, will push the development of a specifically Afrocentric narrative of the nation; at the time of writing (June 2007), there is some indication that it will (Sherlock & Bennett 1 998).1 4 The emerging Afrocentric discourse has certainly not escaped criti cism. As far back as the 1970s, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (who lived in Trinidad at that time) wrote a powerful critique of the tendency for ser vitude to the muse of history to produce a literature of recrimination and despair, a literature of revenge written by the descendants of slaves, or a futile search for songs of triumph, the defiance of the captured warrior, the nostalgic battle chants and ... the great African pastoral (Walcott 1998:46). Walcott ( 1 998:54) observed, surely thinking of Trinidad & Tobago, because we think of tradition as history, one group of anatomists claims that this tradi tion is wholly African and that its responses are alerted through the nostalgia of one race, refusing to allow those of Asian (or other) ancestry the same fiction. More recently, at least one Trinidadian newspaper columnist writ ing in 1 9891 990, who seemed to speak for the small local white commu nity, Jennifer Franco (quoted in Siewah 1994:703-6), frequently expressed her dismay at Afrocentric claims of the longer presence here, the more meaningful contribution, the greater suffering, and hence greater rights to the nation. We have listened, and listened and listened to the story of the struggle of the Africans, she complained; it was time to hear other narra tives, including that of the white Creoles. Another trenchant critique of the 1 4. For the statement by Selwyn Cudjoe, chairman of NAEAP, see the Sunday Express (Trinidad), August 6, 2006, p. 7, and for commentary on it by Selwyn Ryan, see the Sunday Express August 1 3, 2006, p. 11 For developments linked to the 2007 bicentennial, see Caribbean Historical Society 2007 and the public lecture The Meaning of Freedo m by J. Campbell at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad, March 2007 : both present an Afrocentric narrative of Trinidad & Tobago/Caribbean history.
187 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y Afrocentric narrative has been the Afro-Tobagonian Morgan Job. And, need less to say, spokesmen for the emerging Indocentric narrative have attacked many of its elements both explicitly and implicitly as they constructed their own national epic (Siewah 1 994:236-67, 295-96, 703-6; Walcott 1 998:37-54, 1 0; Job 2005:52-53, 67-68). The Indocentric Narrative Trinidadians of South Asian descent now constitute some 40 percent of the national population and are marginally more numerous than Afro-Trinidadians, according to the last census. Their ancestors arrived between 1 845 and 1 9 1 7 as indentured laborers to replace the former slaves who, for the most part, rejected field labor on the sugar estates for very low wages as a viable option for free people. Gradually a small but growing group of educated, middleclass Indo-Trinidadians emerged and began to articulate an Indian view of the colonys development; certainly by the 1 950s, a few such men were explic itly challenging the Afro-Creole, PNM-dominated narrative. H.P. Singh, in his several pamphlets published around the time of national independence, was probably the most trenchant of this group. But it was particularly in the last quarter of the twentieth century that a full-fledged Indocentric narrative emerged. The spread of education had produced a far larger group of highly qualified Indo-Trinidadians than before, many of them well established in the prestigious professions; their economic success, as landowners, businessmen, and entrepreneurs, gave them considerable financial clout. Political leaders and parties associated mainly with Indians became increasingly viable in the 1 980s1 990s. These developments formed the background for a process of ethnic revitalization from the 1 970s, which in turn fed a parallel Hindu renaissance in the same period. As Indo-Trinidadians in fact became more and more creolized in their cultural practices, anxiety about a loss of ances tral traditions, and possible dilution of racial purity, tended to increase. Moreover, the Black Power movement of the late 1 960s/early 1 970s further galvanized ethnic revitalization. Most Indo-Trinidadians opposed the move ment and rejected the label black, which, most felt, subsumed their eth nic identity under a blanket term always primarily associated with people of African descent. It seems clear that the rediscovery of African roots associated with Black Power stimulated a similar process among the Indians. Gradually a fairly clear Indocentric narrative of the nations past emerged. In one version, probably the dominant one, the story was that of all IndoTrinidadians, regardless of religion; for it should be noted that although most Indians are Hindus, significant numbers of them adhere to Christianity or Islam. A second version might more properly be called a Hinducentric nar rative, which stridently associates Indianity with Hinduism. Of course this
188 BRIDGET BRERETON has been influenced by the growing strength, and high international profile, of right-wing Hindu organizations in India. The premise of the Hinducentric narrative is well summed up by one of its leading spokesmen, Surendranath Capildeo, when he stated in 1 989 (quoted in Siewah 1 994:226) Hindu reli gion is the substance of Indian culture and Indian culture is the form of Hindu religion. As Selwyn Ryan has put it, the more extreme version sees the tri umph of Hindu civilization in Trinidad (maybe not in Tobago!) as inevitable because of its inherent superiority to all others; Hindu hegemony is karmic. It seems fair to say, however, that less extreme and more inclusive versions constitute (at present) the mainstream Indocentric narrative (Ryan 1 999:25758; Siewah 1 994:226). This narrative begins with the period of indentured immigration ( 1 8451 9 1 7).1 5 It insists that the vast majority of the immigrants were deceived, tricked, or forced to offer themselves to the arkatis (recruiters) in India, not volunteers (for, unlike the slave trade, indentured immigration was in prin ciple a voluntary process with fairly elaborate provisions for ensuring that this was so). Some were gullible and were tricked, some were persuaded through false promises, some were the victims of outright kidnapping, or so the nar rative goes. Clem Seecharan ( 1 997:xxiii) has found the same narrative in his native Guyana, what he calls morose accounts of deception and separation which still claim local [Guyanese] Indian emotions, rather than acknowl edgement of the hard reality that though fraud and force must have played a part in many individual cases the vast majority left to escape extreme pov erty, landlessness, debts, caste and gender oppression, collapse of indigenous industry, and personal or family troubles. Once the immigrants boarded the ships, whatever the paths that took them to the Coolie Depot in Calcutta, the narrative paints a picture of horrific suffering on the long voyage across the kali pani (dark water) to Trinidad. Implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, conditions on the journey are described in terms reminiscent of the Middle Passage a comparison which, except on a very few voyages when shipboard epidemics devastated the passengers, can hardly be supported by empirical evidence.1 61 5. The generic Indocentric narrative which follows is based on: Eriksen 1 992: 1 29-39; Singh 1993:18, 89-90, 98; Siewah 1994:224-68, 298-307; Seecharan 1997:xxiii-iv, 27, 31, 60; Ryan 1999:7, 202, 211-13, 227-29, 257-58; Persad 2000; Figueira 2003:42-44, 1 59-60, 1 67, 1 88-99. A good brief summary of the narrative can be found in K. Mahabir, Indian Arrival Day, Sunday Guardian (Trinidad), May 27, 2007, p. 25. Each Indian Arrival Day (May 30, commemorating the first group of Indians to arrive in Trinidad in 1845) produces many similar articles in the national newspapers. It has been a public holiday since 1 995, when the 1 50th anniversary was celebrated. 1 6. For a recent fictional account of the arkatis and the horrors of the voyage, see the Indo-Trinidadian author Ron Ramdin (2004).
189 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y Once arrived on the plantations to serve out their indentures, the narrative continues, the immigrants faced appalling conditions of working and liv ing, unremitting oppression, moral degradation and despair, as Seecharan (1997:60) sums up the Guyanese version, which he describes as simplistic and half-true at best. The indentureds worked long hours on the estates, for minimal wages, bullied and harassed by the managers and supervisors, the victims of elaborate rules and regulations which saw many of them jailed for trivial offences, like brief absences from work. As Simbhoonath Capildeo put it, in a 1957 speech in the local legislature (quoted in Figueira 2003:4244, 167): The poor East Indian labourers on the estates are the victims of over 100 years of suppression, oppression, and aggression ... people whose blood is in Trinidads soil, who have been transported from their homeland to work under subhuman conditions. The son of an indentured immigrant himself (albeit a Brahmin and a pundit), Capildeo said in 1 962, I think that no finer men were forced to do more heinous labour than people who had to go and do indentured labour on the sugar estates (quoted in Figueira 2003:42-44, 167). The narrative of recruitment by fraud or force, a horrific voyage, and unrelieved oppression on the Trinidad estates, is well captured in a recent video by the local journalist Gideon Hanoomansingh Legacy of Our Ancestors .1 7 Again an implicit comparison with the hardships of the enslaved can easily be detected here, and an element in the Afrocentric and Indocentric narratives is the issue of who suffered most, what Seymour Drescher (in another context) describes as competitive victimization. At its extreme this kind of argument has led, mainly in the United States, to futile attempts to equate the slave trade and slavery with the Nazi Holocaust, as if one could ever establish a hierarchy of collective suffering or radical evil (Drescher 200 1 : 11 2; see also Drescher 1 999:3 1 2-38). In the Trinidad case, competitive claims to ancestral agonies might be put forward. In the late 1990s, Hindu spokesmen rejected claims for reparations for African slavery, arguing that indentureship was just as damaging and brutal as slavery and that, if anything, its victims suffered more but Indo-Trinidadians did not use this past ordeal as an excuse for present failures, as (it was implied) Afro-Trinidadians did. As Ryan ( 1 999:223-29) correctly observes, this claim of equal or even greater suffering was a polemical statement which had no basis in historical fact, but was part of a deliberate plan on the part of the Maha Sabha [Trinidads leading Hindu organization] to rewrite Trinidads history to serve its wider agenda. Interestingly, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), a longestablished moderately Afrocentric organization, recently claimed: In actu -1 7. The video Legacy of Our Ancestors: The Indian Presence in Trinidad and Tobago 1845-1917 by Gideon Hanoomansingh, was made in 2003 and has been shown several times on national television.
190 BRIDGET BRERETON ality, there was little if any difference between slavery and indentureship. There was the same inhumane conditions on the ships, leading to the deaths of thousands at sea. The East Indian labourer experienced the same kind of physical brutality as the slaves. Penalties for shunning work were flog gings ... and even the loss of parts of the body. This kind of claim, which one might expect as part of the Indocentric narrative, and which has very little basis in empirical evidence, is perhaps surprising granted the nature of NJAC; yet this organization has always stressed its national mission and has tried ever since 1970, when it led the Black Power movement, to involve Indo-Trinidadians. The statement may be understood as a well-inten tioned (though unhistorical) polemical device to stress the commonalities and equality of the nations two largest ethnic groups.1 8 Despite the sufferings of the indentureds, the narrative continues, they endured and overcame all the hardships, and through their discipline and hard work, they saved the local sugar industry which might have collapsed if it had continued to depend on scarce and unreliable labor from the Creoles. In a wider sense, they also saved the whole agrarian economy of Trinidad, by their labor on the sugar, cocoa, and coconut estates, and (even more impor tantly) by their establishment of a thriving peasant sector. Their innate love of the land, their culturally determined propensity for landownership and agriculture, created a sturdy independent small farming class, growing canes, rice, and a whole range of food crops, as well as raising livestock for milk and meat. Indians made a tremendous contribution to Trinidads economic development in these ways. They have contributed more than any other group to the economic development of the country, stated H.P. Singh in 1962, yet they are treated as pariahs (Singh 1993:18). Moreover, Indians achieved their successes in agriculture (and business) on their own: the idea that all Indians received free grants of land after their indentures were up was firmly (and correctly) rejected. As the Maha Sabha stated in 1 998 (quoted in Ryan 1999:74), It is not government grants or State patronage which sus tained the Maha Sabha and the Hindu community. That Indian immigrants were given land in lieu of a passage back to India has wrongly influenced the thinking of many opinion leaders in Trinidad. In 1917, indentured immigration to Trinidad ended, and at the start of 1920, the few remaining indentured workers had their contracts cancelled. The Indocentric narrative continues with a story of more persecution and discrimination, and further triumphs. Indians were oppressed by the colonial authorities, by Christian missionaries who attacked Hinduism and Islam and used unfair means to secure conversions, and, increasingly as the period of decolonization got underway, by the Creoles who were beginning to domi -1 8. See the untitled article by the National Joint Action Committee (Trinidad & Tobago) in the Sunday Guardian (Trinidad), May 2 1 2006, p. 24.
191 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y nate the civil service and government. There was discrimination against them. No state funds were given to Hindu schools until the late 1940s. Traditional Hindu marriages were illegal until 1 945; because pundits were not up to then recognized as civil marriage officers, couples marrying under religious rites would need to carry out a separate registration exercise to make the union legal. Few did, and as a result the vast majority of Hindu children were tech nically illegitimate, often to their disadvantage when propertied parents died intestate, as most did. In 1 999 the Maha Sabha called for reparations of up to two billion (local) dollars for the property losses suffered by generations of Hindu (and Muslim) Indians in this way. (Interestingly, the Indo-Trinidadian and Hindu prime minister then in power dismissed this call as foolishness, though a few Indocentric commentators took the call seriously.) Yet, despite the discrimination and oppression, despite the contempt of other Trinidadians who saw them as heathen coolies, Indo-Trinidadians continued to endure and rise in the socio-economic scale. Through hard work, discipline, frugality (at times to excess), strong family support, faith in their ancestral religions, and a commitment to deferred gratification in the interest of the next generation, Indians achieved success in farming, business, education, and the profes sions. And all this on their own, without the benefit of handouts, government patronage, or any favors. No power on earth can stop the onward march of a frugal, hard-working and industrious people, wrote H.P. Singh in 1 965, and certainly not the resentment of the Negroes when they saw Indians forget ting their place, leaving the cane fields and climbing ever higher (Singh 1 993:89-9 1 ; Ryan 1 999:202, 227-28). With the accession to power of the PNM in 1 956, and independence in 1 962, Indo-Trinidadians found oppression by the African-dominated PNM governments had replaced that by the British colonialists only more so. Discrimination was the order of the day. The state handed out its favors to its own clients, not to people who generally voted for opposition parties. Fundamentalist Christian missionaries, mostly from the United States (or locals trained there), launched crude and aggressive assaults on Hinduism, devil or idol worship in their worldview. Yet Indo-Trinidadians outstripped all others in education and in the professions, and also did well in business. Political power continued to elude them, until in 1 995 an epochal event occurred: a party based on Indian voters, and led by a Hindu Trinidadian, Basdeo Panday, was able to form the government through the support of the two Tobago MPs. Not surpris ingly, this event triggered off a triumphalist discourse among most (certainly not all) Indo-Trinidadians. One can say that it marked a fitting climax to the Indocentric narrative of Trinidad & Tobago history. As we have already noted, a more extreme kind of Hinducentric narrative has also developed, especially in the last fifteen or twenty years. Perhaps its classic expression was a public lecture delivered in 1989 by Surendranath
192 Capildeo, an attorney, politician, and scion of Trinidads most prominent Brahmin Hindu clan. He told his audience, We [Indians] are like no other race. We are different. Indians are a world unto themselves. We regard ourselves as the eternal people. Our religion is the eternal religion. We have been, and are witness to, a continuous unbroken thread of Indian civilization, which began before the memory of man ... So when you look at an Indian, in Trinidad, or wherever, you just remember that. An Indian is no ordinary being. He belongs to a special race ... The Indian mind does not submit to slavery. You cannot enslave an Indian mind. Not even the Vedic gods of yore could do that. That is our legacy. That is our heritage. (Quoted in Siewah 1 994:238-39) After this remarkable opening, with its coded reference to others who did submit to slavery, Capildeo went on to present a full-fledged, albe i t extreme version of the Indocentric narrative: the horrors of the voyage, oppression on the sugar estates, Indian success in agriculture and education, the triumphs of the Capildeo dynasty (which includes Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul), the Indian/Hindu revitalization of the past decades after all the persecution from the system of political negritude which began with the PNM victory in 1956. All in all, Indians had not only rescued Trinidad in no uncertain manner, but had laid the foundation for its transition into a modern, model nation state. And what would happen to that nation if Indians suddenly dis appeared or stopped doing what they did? Law and order will collapse. Bankruptcy will be the norm. Starvation will be your daily wage. Life here will cease. But given the chance, the Indian community will take this coun try to heights unimagined ... The Indians have the capacity to feed, clothe, educate and maintain the people of this country, and to do it in style, comfort and ease (Siewah 1994:259).1 9 This kind of triumphalist narrative partly no doubt a type of rhetorical excess which is locally called robber talk after a traditional carnival character is not part of the mainstream, public IndoTrinidadian worldview, but its expression from time to time naturally feeds into Afro-Trinidadian anxieties, and encourages a more radical Afrocentric narrative in its turn. In addition to the four counternarratives I have discussed here, one rec ognizes that the smaller immigrant groups, such as the Chinese, Syrian/ Lebanese, and Portuguese, might also be developing their own, and the local Whites might construct a sort of updated version of the old French Creole one. The Chinese-descended community has traditionally maintained a low profile in Trinidad & Tobago, preferring not to take public positions or stake ethnic claims, but high-profile, and highly successful, celebrations organized 1 9. See also S. Capildeo, The Stench of Hindu Shame Daily Express (Trinidad), April 1 7, 2007, p. 11 BRIDGET BRERETON
193 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y in October 2006 to mark the bicentenary of the first arrival of Chinese immi grants might change this. Two books were published to commemorate the event, and a program of lectures, art and photography exhibitions, cultural performances, dragon boat races, and so on was organized over several months, culminating on the actual anniversary date in October. Meanwhile, a few prominent local Syrian/Lebanese clans have published books on their family history and on their ethnic associations. The development of the Afro-Creole master narrative during the Independence period, and the subsequent emergence of ethnic or regional counternarratives from the 1 970s onwards, have had the effect of suppressing or eclipsing an earlier, class-based interpretation of the nations history. Such a narrative, associated especially with the countrys emerging labor move ment, and with left-wing writers generally, began to take shape during the interwar years, and stressed cross-race alliances of the workers and the pro gressive middle stratum to achieve gains for the broad masses and to push for decolonization. In the same way that labor and socialist movements were deflected or even defeated by the rise of the PNM in the mid1 950s, so the line of historical narrative associated with them was eclipsed by the Afro-Creole master narrative. The class-based narrative remains significant in formal his tory writing, however, and may in the future achieve more public resonance than it has now. And a gendered narrative has certainly developed in the academic historiography of Trinidad & Tobago, if not yet, perhaps, in the popular mind. 20 Though these potential narratives are not likely to have the same emo tional or political resonance as the four I have considered, especially the Afrocentric and Indocentric ones, their possible emergence points to one salient fact: There are now many authorized versions of the countrys past, all competing for inclusion in the canonical national history. The past is very much alive and a key arena for contestation in the complicated, dynamic, poly-ethnic society that is Trinidad & Tobago today.20. Rennie 1 973, Singh 1 994, Reddock 1 994, Mohammed 2003.RE F ERENCE SANDERSON, BENEDICT, 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism London: Verso. BECKLES, HILAR Y et al ., 2001. For Love of Country St Michael, Barbados: National Cultural Foundation. BI L B Y, KENNET H M., 2006. True-Born Maroons Kingston: Ian Randle.
194 BRIDGET BRERETON BRENNAN, TIMOTHY, 1990. The National Longing for Form. In Homi Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration London: Routledge, pp. 49-58. BRERETON, BRIDGET, 1981. A History of Modern Trinidad, 1783-1962 London: Heinemann. , 1 995. The Nineteenth-Century Historians of Trinidad. Bulletin de la Socit dHistoire de la Guadeloupe 1 06:37-48. , 1998. The White Elite of Trinidad, 1838-1950. In Howard Johnson & Karl Watson (eds.), The White Minority in the Caribbean Kingston: Ian Randle, pp. 32-70. , 1 999. Trinidad and Tobago. In B.W. Higman (ed.), General History of the Caribbean Volume VI: Methodology and Historiography of the Caribbean London: Macmillan; Oxford: UNESCO, pp. 580-90. CA RIBBE A N HI S TORIC AL SOCIET Y, 2007. A Spirit Undaunted. Trinidad: The Society. DE VERTEUI L, ANT H ON Y, 1 995. Martyrs and Murderers: Trinidad, 1699 Port of Spain: the author. DOS SANTOS GOMES, F ., 2001. The Legacy of Slavery and Social Relations in Brazil. In Gert Oostindie (ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe Kingston: Ian Randle, pp. 77-82. DRE S C H ER, SE Y MOUR, 1 999. From Slavery to Freedom: Comparative Studies in the Rise and Fall of Atlantic Slavery New York: New York University Press. , 200 1 Commemorating Slavery and Abolition in the United States. In Gert Oostindie (ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe Kingston: Ian Randle, pp. 1 091 2. ELIE, P., 2006. The Amerindian Revolution at the Mission of San Francisco de los Arenales. Unpublished paper. ERIKSEN, THOMAS HYLLAND, 1992. Us and Them in Modern Societies: Ethnicity and Nationalism in Trinidad, Mauritius and Beyond Oslo: Scandinavian University Press. FIGUEIRA, DAURIUS 2003. Simbhoonath Capildeo: Lion of the Legislative Council, Father of Hindu Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago Lincoln NE: iUniverse. FORTE, MAXIMILIAN C. 2005. Ruins of Absence, Presence of Caribs: (Post)Colonial Representations of Aboriginality in Trinidad and Tobago Gainesville: University Press of Florida. HARNEY, STEFANO, 1996. Nationalism and Identity: Culture and the Imagination in a Caribbean Diaspora London: Zed Books. JOB, MORGAN 2005. Race in Trinidad and Tobago: Africans vs Indians Port of Spain: Alkebu Industries Co. JOHNSON, HOWARD 2003. The Politics of the Past: National Heroes in Post-Colonial Jamaica Mona, Jamaica: Department of History, University of the West Indies.
195 CONTE S TING T H E PAS T: NA RR A TI V E S O F TRINID A D & TOB A GO HI S TOR Y , 2007. From Pariah to Patriot: The Posthumous Career of George William Gordon. New West Indian Guide 8 1 : 1 97-2 1 8. LUKE, L., 2006. The Role of Identity in the Movement for Autonomy in Tobago. In Heather Cateau & Rita Pemberton (eds.), Beyond Tradition: Reinterpreting the Caribbean Experience Kingston: Ian Randle, pp. 248-66. MOHAMMED, PA TRICIA 2003. Gender Negotiations among Indo-Trinidadians, 19171947 London: Palgrave/Macmillan. NA NTON, P., 2007. Eulogising Heroes and Locating Freedom: Problems of Three Barba dos Texts. Paper presented at the Trajectories of Freedom Conference, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. NOR VILLE, C ., 2007. The Caribs: Is There a Carib Culture in Trinidad? Unpublished MA Research Paper, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad. OO S TINDIE, GERT 2005. Paradise Overseas; The Dutch Caribbean: Colonialism and its Transatlantic Legacies Oxford: Macmillan , (ed.), 2001. Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe Kingston: Ian Randle. OTTLEY, C.R., 1969. Tobago: Robinson Crusoes Island in the Caribbean Trinidad: the author. , 1 973. The Story of Tobago Trinidad: Longman Caribbean. PER SA D, KA M AL 2000. The Indian-Caribbean Presence in Hindu History Carapichaima, Trinidad: Indian Review Press. PREMDAS, RALPH R ., 1998. Secession and Self-Determination in the Caribbean: Nevis and Tobago St Augustine, Trinidad: School of Continuing Studies, University of the West Indies. RAMCHARIT AR, R ., 2006. Tourism and the Discourse of Nationalism in Trinidad. Unpublished paper. RA MDIN, RON 2004. Ramas Voyage San Juan, Trinidad: Chakra Publishing. REDDOCK, RHODA, 1994. Women, Labour and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago: A History Kingston: Ian Randle. RENNIE, B., 1973. History of the Working Class in the 20th Century, 1919-1956: The Trinidad and Tobago Experience Toronto: New Beginning Movement. ROBINSON, A.N.R., 1971. The Mechanics of Independence: Patterns of Political and Economic Transformation in Trinidad and Tobago Cambridge MA: MIT Press. , 1 986. Caribbean Man: Selected Speeches from a Political Career 1960-1986 Port of Spain: Imprint. , 2004. Presidential Papers and Other Essays St Augustine, Trinidad: SALISES, University of the West Indies.
196 BRIDGET BRERETONRYAN, SELWYN, 1999. The Jhandi and the Cross: The Clash of Cultures in Post-Creole Trinidad and Tobago St Augustine, Trinidad: SALISES, University of the West Indies. SANSONE, LIVIO, 2001. Remembering Slavery from Nearby: Heritage Brazilian Style. In Gert Oostindie (ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe Kingston: Ian Randle. SEECHARAN, CLEM, 1997. Tiger in the Stars: The Anatomy of Indian Achievement in British Guiana 1919-29 London: Macmillan. SHERLOCK, PHILIP & HAZEL BENNETT, 1998. The Story of the Jamaican People Kingston: Ian Randle. SIE WAH, S (ed.), 1 994. Lotus and the Dagger: The Capildeo Speeches (1957-1994). Tuna puna, Trinidad: Chakra Publishing House. SINGH, H.P., 1993. The Indian Struggle for Justice and Equity against Black Racism in Trinidad and Tobago (1956-1962). Couva, Trinidad: The Indian Review Press. SINGH, KELVIN, 1994. Race and Class Struggles in a Colonial State: Trinidad, 19171945 Kingston: The Press, University of the West Indies. SMIT H, ANT H ON Y D., 1 986. The Ethnic Origins of Nations Oxford: Blackwell. THOMPSON, ALVIN 2006. Symbolic Legacies of Slavery in Guyana. New West Indian Guide 80: 1 9 1 -220. TROTMAN, D.V ., 2006. Public History, Landmarks and Decolonisation in Trinidad Journal of Caribbean History 40:39-63. , 2007. Performing the History: Contesting Historical Narratives in Trinidad and Tobago. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 32(3):731 09. WALCOTT, DEREK, 1998. What the Twilight Says: Essays New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. WILLIAMS, ERIC, 1962. A History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago Port of Spain: PNM Publishing. , 1 964. A History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago London: Andre Deutsch. WOOD, DON AL D, 1 968. Trinidad in Transition London: Oxford University Press. BRIDGET BRERETON University of the West Indies St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago firstname.lastname@example.org
HO WA RD JO H N S ONF ROM P ARIAH T O P ATRIOT : T HE P OSTHUMOUS C AREER O F G EORGE W ILLIAM G ORDON On October 23, 1 865, George William Gordon, a wealthy Colored merchantlandowner and member of Jamaicas House of Assembly, was hanged after a hastily convened court martial found him guilty of complicity in a conspira c y which led to the Morant Bay Rebellion earlier that month. One hundred years later, Gordon and his alleged co-conspirator Paul Bogle were com memorated as patriots and declared national heroes. Gordons commitment to institutionalized memory by the Jamaican government was one aspect of a process which often accompanied decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean the search for the roots of nationalism and the replacement of metropolitan heroes with local ones. In Barbados, for example, ten persons were named as national heroes in 1998. In that same year, the government of St. Lucia designated the first Monday in August every year as National Heroes Day. In 2002, St. Vincent and the Grenadines announced their first national hero (Johnson 1999, 2004). The rehabilitation of Gordons repu tation was, however, more than a government initiative. It represented the culmination of a reappraisal (involving the articulate classes) which had taken place in the islands newspapers, in locally produced historical works, magazines, and literary works since Gordons death. In examining Gordons posthumous journey from pariah to patriot, this article traces the career of a reputation and with it the social, political, and cultural contexts which, over time, shaped and transformed Jamaican collective remembering. Gordon was born a slave, the son of a slave woman and a Scottish plant ing attorney and proprietor who freed him. He eventually became a successful dealer in produce which enabled him to acquire several properties throughout the island. In 1 844 he was elected to the House of Assembly where he served until 1 849. Little in his early political career suggested that he would later develop as a radical politician with a special interest in the problems of the laboring classes. Gordons emergence, by the early 1 860s, as the spokesman for the black poor is partly explained by his religious experience of that period. Originally a member of the United Presbyterian Mission in Jamaica, he later New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007):197-218
198 HO WA RD JO H N S ON turned to the Congregationalists and the Baptists for a more spiritually satisfy ing experience (Green 1 976:386-87). In 1 86 1 during the Great Revival, he joined the Native Baptists and later opened mission stations at Bath and Spring Gardens in St. Thomas-in-the-East, where he acted as a lay preacher. Gordons association with the Native Baptists (whose membership was historically Black) was unusual for a colored person of his wealth and social status and isolated him from members of his own class. It led, however, to an increased knowledge of and interest in the problems of the black laboring classes. Gordons religious work in St. Thomas-in-the-East, where he owned the Rhine Estate, was soon combined with political activities. With the help of Paul Bogle, a Native Baptist preacher with his own chapel in Stony Gut, Gordon created a base of political support for himself in that area. Both men collaborated to increase the black vote despite the restrictions of the 1859 Franchise Bill. The effectiveness of Bogles political organization and electoral campaigning was demonstrated in March 1863, when Gordon was elected to the House after an earlier defeat in February of the previous year. In the House, Gordon became the most consistent spokesman for the laboring classes. In the legislative session of 1864-1865, for example, he called for tax relief for the poor and vigorously opposed a bill in which the administration sought to deal with the problem of praedial larceny by inflicting corporal punishment on convicted offenders. Gordons open sym pathy with the black poor and his emotionally charged oratorical style did much to alienate him from his colleagues in the House of Assembly. He also became the leading critic of Governor Edward John Eyres administration. Gordons main criticisms of Eyres administration were usually directed at what he regarded as the lieutenant-governors unsympathetic and complacent response to the problems of the poor. In 1864, he expressed his frustration with the failure of the colonial authorities to ameliorate social and economic conditions in the colony in terms which were later cited as evidence that he had long plotted insurrection: If we are to be governed by such a Governor much longer, the people will have to fly to arms and become self-governing. These attacks led Eyre to regard Gordon as his chief political opponent and the islands leading troublemaker. 1 The outbreak of disturbances in Morant Bay and its environs in which Bogle was involved provided Eyre with an opportunity for reprisals against Gordon whom he regarded as primarily responsible for the riots. After visiting the scene of the riots, Eyre reported to the colonial secretary: I found every where the most unmistakable evidence that Mr. Geo W. Gordon, a coloured member of the House of Assembly, had not only been mixed up in the mat ter, but was himself, through his own representation and seditious language 1. For a discussion of historical writing on Gordon, Bogle, Eyre and the Morant Bay Rebellion see Higman 1 999:2081 5.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 199 addressed to the ignorant black people, the chief cause and origin of the whole rebellion (Hart 1 972: 1 05). Gordon, who was ill in bed at the time of the riot, was arrested on Eyres orders and taken to Morant Bay where martial law was in force. He was tried, in a perfunctory court martial on two counts: high treason and sedition and having complicity with certain persons in the insurrection at Morant Bay on the 11 th October 1 865, and sentenced to death. The Royal Commission of Enquiry of 1 866 into the rebellion found no evidence that Gordon was involved in its outbreak (Hart 1 972: 1 44). In the aftermath of the Morant Bay disturbances, the colonial admin istrations reprisals against the rioters (real and suspected) were swift and brutal. Martial law was declared in the county of Surrey, with the excep tion of Kingston, naval forces were dispatched to Morant Bay, and troops, the colonial militia, and Maroons were mobilized to suppress the rebellion. According to official estimates, 354 persons were executed after a summary court martial, 85 were shot by troops without any trial, 600 persons (includ ing women) were flogged, and 1,000 buildings destroyed. The brutality of the repression, intended to induce terror in the black population, reflected the exaggerated racial fears of the Whites and Browns. These fears were reinforced by the memories of two events, the slave revolt of the 1790s in Saint Domingue and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 which some of the soldiers, involved in the suppression of the riots, had experienced (Semmel 1 962:4750; Green 1 976:389; Holt 1 992:302). In the atmosphere of crisis which surrounded the Morant Bay riots, Eyre recognized the opportunity for introducing constitutional change for which he had long campaigned. His primary technique for winning support for change was to play on the racial and class fears of the white and brown assembly men, many of whom anticipated that the continued existence of represen tative government would eventually result in black control of an elective Assembly. In December 1865, the Assembly voted to surrender its legis lative powers to the Crown. In the following year, the British government introduced Crown Colony government which replaced the Assembly with a legislature of nominated members and an official majority (Holt 1992:303). As Roy Augier (1966:33, 38) has observed, The constitution of 1866 gave the British political authority in an autocratic form. This autocratic power, the Colonial Office maintained, would guarantee impartial government and protect the interests of the poor and ignorant black majority. In the years after Gordons death, his detractors and defenders offered competing narratives of his life and involvement in the Morant Bay Rebellion. Immediately following the riots, the brown and white elite expressed fer vent support for Eyres brutal suppression which, they believed, had averted another Haiti. Their racial and class fears were reflected in the addresses pre sented to Eyre before he left the island in 1 866. An address from the owners and representatives of property in the mountain districts of the parishes of
200 HO WA RD JO H N S ON Port Royal and St. David stated, We believe the rebellion had not only for its object the overthrow of constituted authority, but also the massacre of the white and coloured people who owned and represented property, and then its division among the lower orders; and we rejoice to be able to bear tes timony, that your Excellency was anything but unequal to the occasion. 2 A valedictory editorial in the Gleaner and De Cordovas Advertising Sheet was equally effusive in Eyres praise: In going from these shores, Mr. Eyre carries with him the conviction that the intelligence, the wealth and respect ability of all creeds and complexions in Jamaica have more than once given him tokens of gratitude for saving the island from destruction, and its inhab itants from scenes worse than death itself. 3 By contrast, Gordons culpabil ity was widely accepted and condemned despite the findings of the 1866 commission exonerating him. In November 1865 the Gleaner advertised a De Cordovas History of the Rebellion of 1 865, in Jamaica whose contents included One of George Gordons Rebel Proclamations, from the original manuscript in the handwriting of George W. Gordon. 4 In that same month, the photographic gallery of Duperley Brothers offered for sale portraits of the Arch-Traitor G.W. Gordon. 5 The establishment perspective on Gordon as a traitor who precipitated the Rebellion by his political agitation persisted into the early twentieth century and quickly became historical orthodoxy. As Ansell Hart pointed out, the Reverend W.J. Gardner, Gordons erstwhile friend, demonstrated an ambiva lence on the subject in A History of Jamaica when he quoted from the com missions report: it appears exceedingly probable that Mr. Gordon, by his words and writings, produced a material effect on the minds of Bogle and his followers, and did much to produce that state of excitement and discontent in different parts of the island which rendered the spread of the insurrection exceedingly probable (Gardner 1 97 1 :489; Hart 1 972: 1 34). Laurence R. Fyfe and A.C. Sinclairs Outlines of the History of Jamaica, published in 1 883, reflected the elite view of Gordons role in the rebellion: Mr. George William Gordon, a member of the House of Assembly, was tried by court-martial and hanged for complicity in the disturbances; and of other ringleaders amongst the insurgents some incurred the penalty of death and others were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Although Fyfe and Sinclair ( 1 883:38) mentioned the Royal Commission and its findings, they failed to note that it had exonerated Gordon. In the 1 896 edition of the Handbook of Jamaica a reference to the Morant Bay Rebellion described George William Gordon as the principal agitator ... who was mainly responsible (Musson & Roxburgh 2 Gleaner and De Cordovas Advertising Sheet June 28, 1 866. 3 Gleaner July 24, 1 866. 4 Gleaner November 1 0, 1 865. 5 Gleaner November 20, 1 865.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 201 1 896:46). Frank Cundall ( 1 9 1 5:245) perpetuated this view of Gordon in his Historic Jamaica with his description of him as a ringleader. The unwavering perception of Gordon as a traitor who had brought on the rebellion by his intemperate speeches and his political agitation is best explained by the fact that the brown and white propertied classes were con vinced that the black lower classes remained susceptible to what they viewed as demagoguery. As a result, they lived in fear of the recurrence of a break down in law and order. This was a view shared by successive colonial admin istrators and Colonial Office officials who regarded black and coloured peoples as easily excitable and with little self-control (Will 1970:51-52). The fears of the effect of political agitation increased in the early 1880s when Blacks became involved in the campaign (conducted by the Jamaica Association and newspaper editors) for constitutional reform (Lumsden 1 998: 11 4). In 1 882 the political campaign revived memories of Gordon, his efforts to extend black political participation and his fate. As the editor of the Westmoreland Telegraph observed, If what the Spiritualists tell us is true, that the spirit of dead men are still moving among us frequenting their old haunts and taking interest in mun dane affairs, the shade of George William Gordon must have been sur prised and delighted to see George Henderson taking up the mantle which he had to drop on his last fatal visit to Head Quarters House, and boldly declaring his opinion that even the 440,000 black people of Jamaica ought to have their share in the legislation of the country whether we have Crown or Representative Institutions. History they say is always repeating itself, but we hope Crown Government will not serve George Henderson and James Gall in the same way as Representative Government served George William Gordon and Sydney [sic] Levien. 6With the extension of the franchise in 1885, Gordon was seen as a precur sor of a new-style politician who was prepared to make his appeal to newly enfranchised black voters on the basis of race and class concerns. J.V. Calder, a wealthy penkeeper, competing with Alexander Dixon, a black shopkeeper, for a seat in the Legislative Council, complained in 1 899 about the nature of Dixons appeal to the ten-shilling voter:He gained the support of the 10s voter by misrepresenting me and telling him he would take off the house tax, and put such a tax on the big mans land that they would have to forfeit it to the Crown, and the people would then get plenty of cheap land. 6 Reprinted in Gleaner December 28, 1886. George Henderson and James Gall were both journalists. Henderson had also served in the House of Assembly. For Sidney Levien see later discussion.
202 HO WA RD JO H N S ON A very similar cry was one of the causes of the rebellion of 1865, and it is a dangerous one to trade on. Our peasantry are law-abiding and wellbehaved, but their civil passions soon get beyond control if their igno rance is traded on by mischeivous [sic] demagogues. Mr. Dixon was prob ably under the care of his parents in when poor people had G.W. Gordon and Paul Bogle as their champions. 7 In the first decade of the twentieth century, George William Gordon contin ued to be associated in the minds of members of the propertied classes with contemporary politicians who, in their view, stirred up trouble and threatened the social and economic order. In May 1909, for example, Louis Lindo, in a thinly disguised allusion to the political campaigning of Paul Bogle and Gordon, warned of the long-term consequences of the activities of the politi cal agitator: The Political Agitator without character or intelligence to lead and direct is a dangerous man; hitherto he has worked irreparable injury and injustice. If in the future we are again to enjoy a free Legislative Assembly, the right of self-government, we must rely on the intelligence and respectability of the Island, not on the vulgar, ignorant, self-seeking men who have hitherto misled the humble class. 8 Given these views, it is not surprising that Lindo should have earlier, in 1 906, concluded that Mr. Gordon was no true Patriot, and went on to state that there was more malicious spirit than patriotism in the conduct of Mr. Gordon. By contrast, Lindo expressed the opinion that Governor Eyre, who has been unmercifully blackened, in certain quarters, was the more patriotic man. 9 Gordons public reputation in the early twentieth century was shaped by the slanderous stories, which had circulated since his death, impugning his character. These alleged character traits had been mentioned by Eyre in a dispatch to the colonial secretary in January 1866 and later in his testimony before the Royal Commission: he was simply a hypocrite, using the garb 7 Letter by J.V. Calder, dated February 27, 1 899, in the Daily Gleaner March 1 1 899. Calder purchased the Worthy Park estate later that year. For the importance of the issue of race and color in this election campaign see The Election Campaign in St. Elizabeth, Daily Gleaner January 21, 1899. As Charles E. Isaacs, one of Calders supporters had warned, It was a dangerous thing for people to say that having sent a white and a brown man they must now send a black man to the Council. They should beware! 8 See The Essential Legislature, Jamaica Times May 22, 1909. Louis Lindo had operated a hotel and livery business in Mandeville in the opening years of the twentieth century but resided in Kingston in 1 909. 9 Letter by Louis Lindo, dated December 13, 1906, Jamaica Times December 22, 1 906.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 203 of religion to conceal his villainy ... It is also well known out here that Mr. Gordon was almost universally regarded as a bad man in every sense of the world. Reputed to be grossly immoral and an adulterer, a liar swindler, dis honest, cruel, vindictive and a hypocrite (Hart 1972:102). In 1906, George Solomon, a wealthy Jewish merchant-planter and a former member of the House of Assembly, wrote of Gordon as a man who had assaulted his own father and exploited the workers on his properties, refusing to pay them for work done. As he observed: when such a character is put forth as a Christian Hero, and when he is proved to be a hypocrite of hypocrites the facts should not be concealed.1 0 To this list of character flaws, Louis Lindo added that of cowardice, in a letter to the Jamaica Times in that same year: he left others to fire the torch he had kindled, by which means he hoped to have been thought innocent. 11 In his newspaper commentaries and his novel Revenge of 1919, H.G. de Lisser, the off-white editor of the Daily Gleaner reflecting contemporary elite apprehension of political agitation, portrayed George William Gordon as a man of words, with unintended yet positive long-term consequences. Unlike many members of his own class, de Lisser acknowledged that the Morant Bay disturbances were not solely the result of Gordons political agi tation. In August 1 906, in an editorial obituary of Charles L. Campbell, who as editor of the Budget had been at the center of the antigovernment agitation in the early 1 860s, de Lisser observed: Then came the rioting at Morant Bay, a demonstration due to many cir cumstances, and not alone, as some uninformed people have thought to the ill-advised, ill-balanced rhetoric of George William Gordon. Gordons character is one that we cannot profess to like, and his methods were fool ish in the extreme; yet he protested against real wrongs, and he and the other agitators of the time were a living proof that a change of conditions was needed.1 2By 1913, de Lissers assessment of Gordons role in the 1865 disturbances was more developed. Writing under the pseudonym of The Observer, he suggested that the debate over those events had subsided and that Gordon and Eyre were already passing from the collective memory: Historians, of course, will always remember Gordon, and educated men will know some thing about him and about the Governor who hanged him. But to the genera -1 0. Letter by George Solomon, undated, Daily Gleaner October 30, 1 906. 11 Letter by Louis Lindo, dated November 8, 1906, Jamaica Times November 17, 1 906. 1 2. See editorial In Memorium [sic], Daily Gleaner August 1 3, 1 906. De Lisser served as the editor of the newspaper from 1 904 until his death forty years later.
204 HO WA RD JO H N S ON tion of fifty years hence Gordon and Eyre will not be much better known than are Cudjoe and Sir William Trelawny to-day ... Who speaks of Gordon and Eyre now? De Lissers view that Gordons actions were not disinter ested was clearly shaped by contemporary Jamaican politics: Do we hold, then, the old opinion entertained by some that Gordon was a good and holy man, wantonly done to death? Our answer is that George William Gordons life has never been truly written, and that, if it were truly written, it would probably be found that Gordon mixed up a great deal of personal feeing with his denunciation of public wrongs. He was not a good man. Governor Eyre was not a good man. Gordon certainly protested against wrongs that ought not to have existed, but his protest was not impersonal: we fear that all the time he was thinking more of George William Gordon than of the people. This is the case with far too many agitators and leaders, and Gordon was no exception to this class [emphasis added]. De Lisser contended that the Morant Bay Rebellion, which Gordon had unwittingly precipitated, had resulted in the introduction of a benevolent government: We do not waste useless tears over the uprising; there had to be a great moral earthquake before betterment and change could be hoped for in this island: there had to be a crisis. It was that crisis that put an end to the old order and ushered in the new. Gordon did serve his country by his death, but he never intended to die, he never anticipated death, he played with fire without clearly realising that it might burn, and that he himself might be consumed in the conflagration.1 3De Lissers fictional portrait of Gordon in his 1 9 1 9 novel, Revenge followed closely the views he had expressed in his political commentaries. Gordon was depicted as a man who had, by his political agitation, provoked events which he could not control: For Gordon playing always for position and power, hungry for applause and hating every opponent with a bitter hate, had never clearly set before his mental vision the possible consequences of his agitation. He was deliberately stirring up the passions of an emotional people in the hope of intimidating the Government; he trusted that he would always be able to control men like Paul Bogle. Which proved he did not really know Paul Bogle. (de Lisser 1 9 1 9:24) 1 3. George William Gordon & 1 865, Daily Gleaner February 1 9, 1 9 1 3. For an extend e d discussion of the political agitator in early twentieth-century Jamaican politics see de Lisser 1 9 1 3: 1 49-52.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 205 In the years after the Morant Bay Rebellion, Gordons defenders provided a counternarrative (to that advanced by the brown and white elite) by main taining his innocence and portraying him as a martyr and hero. It is sig nificant that his earliest defenders expressed their views outside Jamaica. In the aftermath of the rebellion, the colonial administration had directed its repressive measures at the laboring classes in St. Thomas-in-the-East and its brown and white critics. Sidney L. Levien, a Montego-Bay-based Jewish journalist, who had gained considerable notoriety by reason of his edito rial attacks on Governor Eyre, was arrested and taken in a sloop of war to Morant Bay.1 4 Both Levien and another white critic, Dr. Robert Bruce of Vere, narrowly escaped Gordons fate (Jacobs 1 973: 1 03). The effect of these actions was to stifle dissenting political opinion from any quarter. As H.G. de Lisser remembered in 1 9 1 3: It was the custom in this country not long ago, whenever any one was busy agitating for something or other, to say to that person: Remember Gordon! The warning conveyed a threat: They hanged Gordon, take care they do not hang you.1 5 As early as January 1866, the Reverend Henry Clarke, the rector of the Anglican Church in Savanna-La-Mar, in a letter to the secretary of the AntiSlavery Society in England, insisted that Gordon was innocent and would be remembered as a martyr: G.W. Gordon is at this moment speaking more loudly, more persistently, more effectively for the people of Jamaica than ever he did in his life time, and the time is not far distant when amid the grateful tears of a free and prosperous people a glorious monument shall be erected over his grave inscribed to him as the self-sacrificing martyr whose blood sealed the Magna Carta of the black mans liberties.1 6 Clarke recognized that he was expressing a minority opinion for most members of his congregation had earlier signed an address supporting Governor Eyres actions (Walvin 1 994:48). Within three years of Gordons death, two ministers of religion, living in England, asserted Gordons innocence. In 1867, the Reverend Duncan Fletcher, who had served as a missionary with the London Missionary Society on the island and knew Gordon, published a sympathetic account of 1 4. See the obituary of Sidney Levien, The Death of Mr. S.L. Levien, Daily Gleaner September 27, 1 895. 1 5. George William Gordon & 1865, Daily Gleaner February 19, 1913. The fear of the consequences of political agitation was reflected in a letter by Portlander, undated, Jamaica Times May 1 1 909. It was prompted by the establishment of the National Club, in March of that year, which had then launched a political campaign for the removal of Governor Sydney Olivier from Jamaica. Portlander had observed: It was through political agitation and inflammatory speeches that the so-called Rebellion in St. Thomasin-ye-East in 1865 occurred, and those who are acquainted with the history of it knows [sic] how awful were the consequences. 1 6. See Edith Clarke, Black Dignity, Daily Gleaner October 1 6, 1 965.
206 HO WA RD JO H N S ON his life (Fletcher 1 867).1 7 The Gleaner s editorial response to this publication demonstrates the difficulty of defending Gordon in Jamaicas respectable society at this time: It will be remembered that Mr. Fletcher was a political agitator, and, in concert with Gordon, wrought an amount of mischief among the people which at one time, it was feared would, if persisted in, culminate in negro riots against those in authority. Fortunately, Mr. Fletcher left the country before the seeds took root, which he, in concert with George W. Gordon scattered to the annoyance of his brother ministers and all right-thinking people in Jamaica.1 8 In 1 868, C.H. Spurgeon, a British Baptist minister and Englands best-known preacher, who knew Gordon by reputation, described him as a Christian hero, a soldier of liberty, and a defender of the right and predicted, His name and story will forever be intertwisted with the substance of Jamaicas history, and the day will come when statues will be erected to his memory and their unveiling sanctioned by the presence of the highest authorities of the island.1 9 In Jamaica, the public defense of Gordons political career and condem nation of the manner of his death began in the closing decades of the nine teenth century in a period of constitutional change. In 1883, for example, at the time of agitation for constitutional reform, the editor of the Falmouth Gazette stated, George William Gordon, for trying to uproot the wrongs of Government in 1865, was illegally arrested, illegally tried by an illegally constituted Military Court Martial, and murdered, despite his cries for jus tice. 20 By 1 896, R.E. Clarke, a minister of religion, predicted the day may come when Gordons statue will be deemed a worthy addition to the city of Kingston.2 1 However, a proposal that a statue of Gordon should be erected by subscription was received with horror in that same year. 22In 1 899, W.P. Livingstone, the English editor of the Daily Gleaner under took a revaluation of the circumstances of the Morant Bay Rebellion and Gordons role in it. He concluded that Gordon was a political agitator who hoped to force a radical change in the conditions of Government rather than a conspirator in rebellion. Livingstone pointed out that in the wake of 1 7. For a discussion of Fletchers relationship with Gordon see Stewart 1 992: 1 63-64. 1 8. Gleaner and De Cordovas Advertising Sheet April 1 1 867. 1 9. Quoted in a letter by R.E. Clarke, dated July 3, 1 896, Daily Gleaner July 6, 1 896. 20. See editorial Crown Government in Jamaica, reprinted in Daily Gleaner January 30, 1 883. 2 1 Letter by R.E. Clarke, dated July 3, 1 896, Daily Gleaner July 6, 1 896. 22. See St. Andrews Parochial Board, Daily Gleaner October 3, 1 896.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 207 the disturbances, the colonial government used Gordon as a scapegoat for a situation that it had created: It was during this period of palpitating fear that the authorities offered up Gordons life on the scene of disorder, a sacrifice to a condition of things which they themselves had created. For it was the Government which was primarily to blame for the tragedy. It had refused to accept the responsibil ity of educating the people; for a whole generation it had done nothing to improve their ethical and industrial efficiency. It had proved incapable of governing the country aright; it had reduced it to a state of bankruptcy and ruin. It had allowed race-prejudice, private animosities, and class oppres sion to prevail. It had defied the spirit of discontent until in one quarter it issued in a quarrel and a riot. (Livingstone 1 899:76) With greater attention directed to policies benefiting the laboring classes, under Crown Colony government, contemporary observers increasingly appreciated the forward-looking measures which Gordon had earlier pro posed. In 1899, for example, Reverend Henry Clarke, by then an elected member of the Legislative Council, claimed that the education grant of that year was the first effort he had ever known ... to elevate the people and make them a moral and civilised community. He expressed the opinion that, except for Gordon, the Christian Ministers had done everything for the progress and uplifting of the country: George William Gordon spoke for the progress of the people in the House of Assembly, and they all know what reward was accorded him. 23 In March of the following year, G.F. Judah, a prominent citizen of Spanish Town and an amateur historian, noted that Gordons reform proposals had anticipated those introduced by Sir John Peter Grant under Crown Colony Government: All the measures in favour of the masses in Jamaica, George William Gordon advocated and pressed for and for which he was hanged, were the measures initiated and carried through by the first Governor Administrator, and they have formed the basis since of all legislation. 24 In the opening decade of the twentieth century, public opinion on Gordon remained polarized. In 1 899 he was mentioned in a Daily Gleaner competi tion to name Jamaicas greatest men living or dead. 25 This was, however, no index of unanimity. On the anniversary of Gordons execution in October 1902, the editor of the Jamaica Times observed: To-day is the anniversary of the execution of Mr. G.W. Gordon at Morant Bay. The event awakens memories of a sad and bitter time in Jamaica a time which many like to 23. Report of a meeting of the Legislative Council, May 2, 1 899, Daily Gleaner May 3, 1 899. 24. Jamaicas Greatest Men, Daily Gleaner December 23, 1 899. 25. Letter by G.F.J., March 1 1 900, Daily Gleaner March 3, 1 900.
208 HO WA RD JO H N S ON leave alone or forget. Perhaps this is best. The division of feeling is naturally still keen in certain quarters. There are many who would erect a monument to Gordon but the idea has not been universally approved. 26 In a series of letters and articles in the Daily Gleaner and the Jamaica Times in 1906 and 1 909, R.E. Clarke, G.F. Judah, and Oscar Plummer defended Gordon against the claims of George Solomon (his contemporary), and Louis Lindo who were convinced that he was a conspirator in the 1865 disturbances and a hypocrite. 27 In an article, Past and Present in the Daily Gleaner in October 1906, R.E. Clarke (reflecting Livingstones influence), presented the stan dard defense of Gordon: They say that Gordon had no right to have spoken to the people as he did, and that his speeches were treasonable and tended to incite rebel lion against lawful authority. But Gordon, in his place in the House of Assembly, had attempt e d over and over again to state the grievances of the people and to obtain some redress of their wrongsfor unless the people themselves gave some indication that they felt themselves wronged, how should the Government believe the statements of their Representative in the Assembly? 28 In 1 9 1 2 Claude McKay portrayed Gordon as a hero in a prize-winning poem, George William Gordon to the Oppressed Natives, in a competition for a patriotic poem organized by the British newspaper, the Weekly 29 McKays poem was not a marker of the widespread acceptance of Gordon as a Jamaican patriot, for he continued to divide opinion in the interwar years. In 1921, for example, W. Clarke MacCalla, in a letter to the Daily Gleaner observed that Gordon had lived before his time: If the present elected mem bers had lived in Gordons day, they would all of them have been hanged by the neck for the outspoken criticisms of the Executive and the Government as they now do. He went on to suggest that a statue should be erected by the people, in Kingston, to the memory of George William Gordon, who gave his life as a martyr in the cause of Truth against oppression and wrong. 30 There were, however, others who continued to see Governor Eyre as the true hero. John M. Lynch, who was a boy of seven at the time of the Morant Bay 26. Anniversaries, Daily Gleaner October 23, 1 902. 27. See, for example, letter by R.E. Clarke, dated November 26, 1 906, Jamaica Times December 6, 1 906; letter by G.F.J., dated December 4, 1 906, Jamaica Times December 6, 1 906; Oscar Plummer, A Page from Jamaica History, Jamaica Times May 22, 1 909. 28. Daily Gleaner October 1 6, 1 906. 29. See Claude McKay, Daily Gleaner May 3, 1 9 1 2. 30. Letter by W. Clarke MacCalla, dated September 1, 1921, Daily Gleaner September 5, 1 92 1
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 209 Rebellion, commented in 1925: He [Eyre] was a brave English gentleman and a hero. The methods he used to suppress the rebellion in Jamaica of 1 865 were not extraordinarily severe.3 1 In some quarters, the view that Gordon brought on the 1865 disturbances by his intemperate speech persisted. As H.G. de Lisser noted in 1 924: Even without Gordon the situation would have been serious; with Gordon it became dangerous. But he went blindly on, talking, talking, talking, and for getting that he had an ignorant and illiterate audience. The explosion came, it was repressed with extraordinary severity. Gordon was hanged. His trial was a farce, it was in every way illegal. Yet Gordon was morally responsible for the death of many human beings, and if he had been given the fair trial he ought to have had he still would have been sentenced to death. 32 De Lissers view of Gordon was shared by the black legislator, D.T. Wint, who warned in 1930 against the noxious doctrines which he accused Marcus Garvey of disseminating: Remember the Morant Bay Rebellion. Gordon and Paul Bogle did not preach sedition to the people: did not tell them to rebel, but they laid the train for the outbreak, by sowing the seeds of unrest and discord among the people. And I tell you that this is being done again to-day, and unless we are careful we are heading for disaster. 33 Lord Olivers revisionist study, The Myth of Governor Eyre published in 1 933, did not immediately dispel the notion that Gordon was partly respon sible for the rebellion (see also Carnegie 1 973: 1 53). Oliver had effectively dismissed the claim that Eyre was a hero, established Gordons innocence, and demonstrated that social, economic, and political conditions were the underly ing causes of the disturbances. Although de Lisser accepted Olivers findings, he maintained that Gordon precipitated the rebellion: Of course we ourselves have no doubt that Gordon himself was a bitter, personal, vituperative man, and we have always felt that he should have realised that he was storing up trouble which might end in disaster. 34 In 1 935, a news item from the Daily Gleaner announced a lecture by Colonel Rowe of the Accompong Town Maroons which promised to discuss What Maroons of Accompong Town did to save Jamaica from Paul Bogle and John [sic] Wm. Gordon in 1 865. 35 K.M. Rowley in an article on The Tragedy of 1 865, written in the wake of the 1 938 islandwide 3 1 Letter by John M. Lynch, February 2 1 1 925, Daily Gleaner February 24, 1 925. 32. See editorial What is the Cause? Daily Gleaner April 4, 1 924. The idea of Gordon as a demagogue persisted into the 1 950s; see Hall 1 959:252. 33. See Mr. Wint Replies to Attacks, Daily Gleaner January 1 7, 1 930. 34. See editorial, Eyre and Olivier, Daily Gleaner December 1 4, 1 933. 35. See Lecture which Col. Rowe Maroons Chief, Will Give in City, Daily Gleaner June 1 0, 1 935.
210 HO WA RD JO H N S ON disturbances, reverted to the earliest ideas about Gordons role in the Morant Bay Rebellion: He urged his countrymen to undertake an attempt upon law and order, which he alone among the rebels, on account of his superior educa tion and wider experience should have seen to be impossible, impracticable, and disastrous. Upon his head, rather than upon that of Governor Eyre, be the blood of the four hundred or more victims of the rebellion. 36 In the interwar years, when the growth of nationalism prompted a demand for Jamaican rather than British heroes, Gordon was seldom mentioned in the discussions. In fact, H.G. de Lisser suggested in 1 938 that one of the reasons for the survival of Gordon and Paul Bogle in the collective memory was the fact that they had been hanged: I have always known that, if any political leader is to be remembered in Jamaica even before he dies, to say nothing of after he dies, he must get hanged like Paul Bogle and George William Gordon. 37 Since the late nineteenth century, the individuals most often dis cussed as worthy of veneration were the free Coloreds, Edward Jordon and Robert Osbourn, who were associated with the free-Colored campaign for civil rights in the early 1 800s. The appeal of these men for the brown middle classes was that The free coloured population agitated for equal political rights, but did not resort to arms. 38 The public recognition of Gordon as a patriot came with the introduction of universal adult suffrage in 1 944 and the beginning of mass politics which followed on the labor disturbances in 1 938. As Eric Williams ( 1 942:9 1 ) per ceptively observed in 1 942, The events of the years 1 9351 938 mark a revo lution in the history of the British Caribbean islands. The initiative passed from the brown middle class to the black working class. 39 In 1946 W.A. Bustamante, the near-white leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), anx ious to enhance his leadership credentials among the rural laboring classes, invoked Gordons memory to provide himself with political legitimacy. It can be argued that he hoped to demonstrate that there was a precedent for a brown man with a sincere interest in improving the conditions of the black majority. The link between Bustamante and Gordon was made in an adver tisement for a by-election in the parish of Hanover for which W.M. Dickson was the JLP candidate: 36. K.M. Rowley, The Tragedy of 1 865, Daily Gleaner April 29, 1 939. 37. See Random Jottings: As I See the World, Daily Gleaner October 8, 1 938. 38. For early references to Edward Jordon, Robert Osbourn, and Richard Hill as great Jamaicans see Jamaicas Greatest Men, Daily Gleaner December 23, 1 899; A Famous Jamaican, Jamaica Times June 22, 1901; Westwood High School, Jamaica Times July 22, 1 905. See editorial, Emphasis, Daily Gleaner September 1 1 944. 39. Williams 1942:91. H.G. de Lisser, the voice of Jamaican conservatism, had in 1933, before the disturbances, observed, This, too, is the day of the common people, to-morrow it will be still more their day. See the editorial, The Common People, Daily Gleaner December 22, 1 933.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 211 When you vote for Dickson you vote for the Jamaica Labour Party, led by Jamaicas Labour and Political Leader, Alexander Bustamante, the man who has done more good and has made more sacrifices for the people of this Country than any other man except George William Gordon who made the supreme sacrifice during the regime of Governor Eyre. Gordon lost his life fighting for the people of his country. Bustamante lost his freedom more than once fighting for you for your and his country. Deny this if you can. 40 In the following year, Bustamante initiated a process of valorization involv ing Gordon, Bogle, and the Morant Bay Rebellion, which he associated with self-sacrifice and patriotism. In a rambling speech urging self-government and constitutional advancement, he linked individuals and events in a nar rative of struggle and self-sacrifice which stretched from slavery to the con temporary period: it is not just today or yesterday or since I have been back to this island that there has been a fight, a literary [sic] fight for freedom. This matter of freedom started from the time of slave days ... Then we must not forget that the fight continued for freedom in 1 865, when that great man George William Gordon, a coloured man, who did not fight for himself but for othe r s for Gordon had no reason to fight for himself; Gordon was some what of a wealthy man; Gordon did not have the will to fight for freedom or for himself but he had the will to fight for others. Bustamante treated Gordon and Bogle as coequals in this narrative: We must not allow the sufferings and pain of death of Gordon and Paul Bogle to go in vain. I would like to emphasize that. We must not allow the pain, the mental and physical pain of George William Gordon and Paul Bogle to go in vain. Those men fought in 1865. What did they gain? Nothing. They lost their lives.4 1 In establishing the link between the 1865 Rebellion and the Jamaica of representative government, Bustamante anticipated the focus of Vic Reids 1949 novel, New Day It was, however, Reid who brought 1865 and its principal historical figures to wider public awareness. Writing in 1 965, the theater critic Norman Rae observed: One may speculate where the source lies of this modern fleet of Gordon-Bogle revival and worship. Did our grandparents know very much about them or hold them in esteem? Taking a long guess, one might put it down to the power of the literary word. It may not be true but it is very likely that Vic Reids New Day ... put the steam in the Morant Bay train. 4240. See Facts for Hanover Voters, Daily Gleaner November 2, 1 946. For a discussion of Bustamantes early career in electoral politics see Eaton 1 975. 4 1 Report of the meeting of the House of Representatives, dated July 9, 1947, Daily Gleaner July 1 0, 1 947. 42. Norman Rae, The 1 865 Story, Daily Gleaner October 22, 1 965.
212 HO WA RD JO H N S ON An indicator of Gordons elevation in public esteem was the frequency with which he was mentioned as a great Jamaican during the 1950s, at a high point of nationalist feeling. In 1 95 1 for example, W. Adolphe Roberts, the white Jamaican historian and pioneer of the movement for political selfdetermination published Six Great Jamaicans: Biographical Sketches in which Gordon was described as the misunderstood nationalist and defender of the submerged masses. Roberts went on to point out that there was no reason whatsoever to think that he incited Bogle to resort to bloodshed. This was a reversal of opinion, for in 1933 he had written of the Morant Bay Rebellion: The leaders, including an eccentric but slightly guilty col ored politician named George William Gordon, were executed wholesale (Roberts 1933:295). The change the coming of mass politics had made on Robertss perception of historical figures was demonstrated in his com ments comparing the political records of Edward Jordon and Gordon: He [Gordon] entered politics as a member of the Town Party, but with the differ ence that Gordon was most passionately the advocate of the poverty-stricken Negro peasants, whereas Jordon and others of the party spoke primarily for the coloured middle-class (Roberts 1 95 1 :2). The transformation of Gordon from traitor to patriot was also reflected in these comments which appeared in a series of short biographies of Jamaican patriots in the Spotlight magazine in 1 952: No statue stands to the memory of this native son who was branded a traitor by British biographers. In the new light which has dawned on his countrymen a century after his murder, his name emerges more gloriously illumined than any other on the sketchy pages of history. He was, by every honest assessment, Jamaicas greatest patriot (Roberts 1 95 1 :29). 43Throughout the 1950s, members of the House of Representatives and the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Council discussed the idea of honor ing men, like Gordon and Marcus Garvey, who had been identified as great Jamaicans (Johnson 2004:9). It was not, however, until 1960 (after Jamaica had advanced to full self-government with responsibility for internal affairs) that the proposal to honor Gordon took concrete form in the decision to name the new building that would house the islands legislature after him. At this point, the emphasis was placed on Gordons career as a parliamentarian. What had earlier been regarded as demagoguery was then perceived as an impassioned advocacy of the interests of the laboring classes. As an editorial in the Daily Gleaner in June 1 960 pointed out: From his seat in that House and from platforms elsewhere in the country, he became a passionate and brilliant spokesman for justice for the people of Jamaica of all classes and estate. He was hanged by Governor John Eyre as a tyrant but his name lives on today in the minds of Jamaicans as that 43. See George William Gordon, Spotlight 1 3, nos. 4 & 5 (April-May 1 952).
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 213 of a devoted patriot and a fanatical supporter of the liberties and social justice which are the bases of free Parliament itself. 44 Governor Sir Kenneth Blackburn completed Gordons rehabilitation when he acknowledged his innocence in his address at the opening of Gordon House ninety-five years after his hanging: It is as a humanitarian that he will be remembered rash; perhaps but always urging peaceful means in his efforts to improve conditions for the poor and needy. 45In 1 96 1 the House of Representatives unanimously approved a motion requesting the government to erect statues of the illustrious George William Gordon patriot and hero and Paul Bogle. The debate on the motion is impor tant, for members of the House emphasized that it was only by such measures and teaching about the countrys historical development that a strong feeling of national pride could be engendered. 46 By naming Marcus Garvey a nation a l hero in 1 964, followed by Gordon and Bogle in 1 965, on the centenary of the rebellion, the government of independent Jamaica began a process of con structing a national identity through the use of state-induced history (Zimmer 2003:2). 47 Members of the government were especially aware that race, color, and class particularism persisted and were intent on achieving a national cohe siveness. Gordons role in this project of political education was fixed as early as 1 96 1 when he came to symbolize cooperation between Jamaicas Browns and Blacks. In that year Keble Munn, then Minister of Agriculture and Lands and a descendant of Gordons sister, reminded members of the House that Bogle and Gordon represented two different types of Jamaicans: both playing their part in the struggle to better the lot of the Jamaican masses. This was an important point to bear in mind at a time when there were peo ple in the island who were saying that Jamaicans should be divided one from another. It was significant therefore to bear in mind that while Bogle was a coal black Jamaican, Gordon was a mulatto, the both of them nevertheless working together and this was 1 00 years to build up their country. 48 Four years later at the ceremonies commemorating the 1865 rebellion, Munn explained the significance of the events of 1865 to those persons who claimed ignorance of their importance: They do not understand that 44. See editorial George William Gordon, Daily Gleaner June 2, 1 960. 45. See Gordon House Bar to Dictatorship, Daily Gleaner October 27, 1 960. 46. See Govt. to Erect Statues of Bogle, William Gordon, Daily Gleaner July 27, 1 96 1 47. For an extended discussion of the creation of National Heroes in Jamaica see Johnson 2004. 48. See Govt. to Erect Statues of Bogle, William Gordon, Daily Gleaner July 27, 1 96 1
214 HO WA RD JO H N S ON Bogle and Gordon, one black, one brown were the forerunners of the motto enshrined in our constitution: Out of Many One People. 49Gordons symbolic role has remained essentially the same since 1 96 1 but aspects of the historical record have been emphasized to reflect the changing objectives of successive administrations and altered social contexts. During the period of the People National Partys experiment with democratic social ism, Prime Minister Michael Manley described Gordon as a martyr to social justice. 50 Under the JLP administration of Edward Seaga, with the restora tion of free enterprise and the further entrenchment of a brown business elite in the corporate sector, Gordon was portrayed as a man whose social and eco nomic position brought obligations to the poor which he chose not to ignore. These were the implications of a speech delivered by Carey Robinson, the executive director of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, to the monthly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Kingston in which he described the historic journey of most Jamaicans as one of self-fulfillment: the real history and heritage of this country is the journey of its vast majority from the confines of a house of bondage, through desert places, wilderness and valleys of the shadow, towards the promised land of freedom, self-respect and self-realiza tion. The Gordon described by Robinson fitted in with this new ideological landscape: The great significance of George William Gordon to Jamaicas heritage was that, as a well-to-do-man, he put aside every temptation to take the easy path to social distinction by ignoring the people and instead threw himself recklessly into the fight for human and civil rights.5 1 With the triumph of free market ideology, Gordon began a new career, shilling for the Jamaica Mutual Life Assurance Society which he had helped to found. As an advertisement for the organization in February 1984 stated, Co-founded in 1844 by our National Hero George William Gordon, Mutual has played an important role in the growth and development of Jamaica. 52 The sustained attempt to project Gordon as the symbol of cooperation between Browns and Blacks, in a society divided along race, class, and color lines, was greeted with skepticism in some quarters. As early as 1962, the Political Reporter writing in the Sunday Gleaner in August of that year remarked, 49. See Enshrinement of 1865 Heroes Bogle, Gordon Extolled, Daily Gleaner October 26, 1 965. 50. Charles Sq. Renamed for Sam Sharpe, Daily Gleaner October 2 1 1 975. 5 1 See Carey Robinson on Our Real History and Heritage, Daily Gleaner October 1 8, 1986. For an excellent discussion of this period of Jamaicas recent past see Robotham 2000. 52. See advertisement, Daily Gleaner February 9, 1 984.
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 215 I have been asked why I find no reason to adulate George William Gordon and to declare him a national patriot ... From my own point of view I have read the record and I find George William Gordon a pusillanimous person who blundered into a hanging and I find it difficult to believe that a man who at that time and era married an English wife could have much sympa thy with the mass of the Jamaican people. 53 In 1 965, the Political Reporter claimed, at the time of the ceremonies com memorating the 1865 rebellion, that Bogles central role had been down played in order to bolster the national image of the coloured middle class through George William Gordon (Johnson 2004: 11 ). By 1 987, Gordon had suffered a reputational decline. In June of that year a poll conducted by Carl Stone found Gordon to be the most poorly rated of the National Heroes with a 1 percent support among those polled. It is clear that Gordons association with the idea of cooperation between Browns and Blacks had little relevance in a society where the gap between brown affluence and black poverty had widened. By contrast, Marcus Garvey with his message of black upliftment had broad appeal. 54 In October 2004, Valerie Dixon, writing in the Sunday Gleaner expressed incredulity that a rich brown man like Gordon would want to take action to ameliorate the conditions of the poor black laboring classes: It was never made clear to me how a rich brown man and a poor black man came to share the gallows at the Courthouse in 1 865. 5553. The Politics of Independence, Sunday Gleaner August 1 9, 1 962. 54. See Garvey Seen as Most Outstanding of Our National Heroes, Daily Gleaner July 8, 1987. Carl Stone had commented on the findings of this poll: The change [from a previous poll in 1983] has been most likely due to the heavy profile being given to Garvey as part of the Independence Anniversary Celebrations and also to the fact that his black upliftment appeals cut across partisan leanings. The phrase reputational decline is Barry Schwartzs ( 1 99 1 :225). 55. See Paul Bogle and George William Gordon Heroes or Idiots? Sunday Gleaner October 1 7, 2004. Noelle Chutkan, historian of the Morant Bay Rebellion, had incisively analyzed the condition of the Jamaican working classes 1 30 years after the disturbances: It is doubtful that 130 years after the war, an outbreak of hostilities, similar to that of 1865 could occur. Not because people are better off. Far from it. In many ways the poor are poorer. The quality of life is no better as poor people struggle with the barbarity that passes for public transportation, the low level of wages that bear no relationship to the cost of living; the poor roads and uncertain water supply that prevent our farmers from getting their produce to market or their children to school. The administration of justice although now in the hands of paid professionals and not dispensed by partisan interests, is comparatively more expensive and unattainable by the poor than it was in 1865. See Noelle Chutkan, War is at My Black Skin: Suppression of a Rebellion, Sunday Gleaner October 1 5, 1 995.
216 HO WA RD JO H N S ON Gordons continued reputational decline, in the years after 1992, is best explained by a new emphasis on black nationalism in the successive PNP administrations of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. This was one aspect of a process which Don Robotham has described as blackening the Jamaican nation (Robotham 2000). In 1992, Patterson became the first elected black prime minister and subsequently, as Deborah Thomas has cogently argued, issued subtle but significant public challenges to the ideology of creole mul tiracial nationalism. In a series of symbolic gestures, including invitations to African heads of state to visit Jamaica for independence and other celebra tions, and an economic policy which sought to entrench a black bourgeoisie as a governing elite, Patterson reinforced the idea that Jamaica is a black country for which Blacks should provide the leadership (Thomas 2004:1112, 83-84). The PNPs adoption of Black nationalism (which had broad appeal among Black Jamaicans across class and gender lines) was partly responsible for its victory in the 1 997 general election for an unprecedented third successive term (Thomas 2004:83, 90). The partys black nationalist thrust also provided popular support for its program of displacing the tra ditional brown economic elite from its accustomed position of dominance (Robotham 2000: 1 31 6). These developments had implications for the way in which Gordon came to be regarded. Gordon, as Keble Munns comments, cited earlier, indicated, belonged to an earlier vision of Jamaica as a model of multiracial harmony which had inspired the national motto of the independent nation Out of Many, One People. As I have argued elsewhere, the governing elites since the 1 950s had advocated a nonracial national identity (inclusive of all racial groups), rejecting the black racial counteridentity of the islands majority as advanced by Marcus Garvey (Johnson 1 998: 1 28-30). During Pattersons ten ure in office, marked by a more explicitly racialized concept of citizenship, Gordon became increasingly irrelevant as a symbol of national identity. In 1 997 the reinstatement of Emancipation Day as a public holiday reflected the emphasis placed on African cultural heritage as an essential element in promot ing a sense of national identity (Robotham 2000: 1 6; Thomas 2004: 1 2, 1 58). The life and political career of George William Gordon became a source of competing narratives from the time of his execution in October 1865. These contested memories reflected the color and class divisions with in Jamaican society and the divergent perspectives on the position of the black majority in the political sphere. The decisive shift in the perception of Gordon from traitor to patriot came only with the emergence of mass politics when he emerged, in public discourse, as a defender of the interests of the black laboring classes. After independence, successive governments (led in both parties by members of a brown elite) appropriated Gordon as a symbol of collaboration between Browns and Blacks in establishing a pan theon of national heroes. By the 1980s, however, Gordon went into reputa
FROM PA RI AH TO PA TRIOT: TH E PO S T H UMOU S CA REER O F G. W GORDON 217 tional decline as contemporary developments, specifically the deteriorating social and economic conditions of the black majority, indicated the limits of the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation across the color line. This decline has continued to the present day as Jamaicans increasingly assert their black identity.RE F ERENCE SAUGIER, RO Y, 1 966. Before and After 1 865. New World Quarterly 2:2 1 -40. CARNEGIE, JAMES, 1973. Some Aspects of Jamaicas Politics: 1918-1938 Kingston: Institute of Jamaica. CUND ALL, FR A N K, 1 9 1 5. Historic Jamaica London: Institute of Jamaica. EA TON, GEORGE E. 1 975. Alexander Bustamante and Modern Jamaica Kingston: King ston Publishers. FLETCHER, DUNCAN, 1867. Personal Recollections of the Honourable George W. Gordon, Late of Jamaica London: Elliot Stock. FYFE, LAURENCE R. & A.C. SINCLAIR, 1883. Outlines of the History of Jamaica. In The Handbook of Jamaica Comprising Historical, Statistical and General Information Concerning the Island Kingston: Government Printing Establishment. GA RDNER, W .J., 1 873. A History of Jamaica from its Discovery by Christopher Columbus to the Year 1872 London: Frank Cass, reprint. GREEN, WILLIAM A ., 1976. British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment 1830-1865 Oxford: Clarendon Press. HALL, DOUGLAS, 1959. Free Jamaica 1838-1865: An Economic History New Haven: Yale University Press. HA RT, AN S E LL, 1 972. The Life of George William Gordon Kingston: Institute of Jamaica. HIGM A N, B. W 1 999. Writing West Indian Histories London: Macmillan. HO L T, TH OM AS C. 1 992. The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. JACOBS, H.P ., 1973. Sixty Years of Change, 1806-1866: Progress and Reaction in Kingston and the Countryside Kingston: Institute of Jamaica. JO H N S ON, HO WA RD, 1 998. The Jamaica 300 Celebrations of 1 955: Commemoration in a Colonial Polity. In Peter Burroughs & A. J. Stockwell (eds.), Managing the Business of Empire: Essays in Honour of David Fieldhouse London: Frank Cass, pp. 1 20-37. , 1999. The Historiography of Jamaica. In B.W. Higman (ed.), General History of the Caribbean Vol. 6, Methodology and Historiography of the Caribbean London: UNESCO/Macmillan, pp. 478-530.
218 HO WA RD JO H N S ON , 2004. The Politics of the Past: National Heroes in Post-Colonial Jamaica Mona: Department of History, University of the West Indies. LI SS ER, H .G. DE, 1 9 1 3. Twentieth Century Jamaica Kingston: The Jamaica Times. 1 9 1 9. Revenge: A Tale of Old Jamaica Kingston: Gleaner Press. LUM S DEN, JO Y, 1 998. A Forgotten Generation: Black Politicians in Jamaica, 1 8841 9 1 4. In Brian Moore & Swithin Wilmot (eds.), Before and After 1865: Education, Politics and Regionalism in the Caribbean Kingston: Ian Randle, pp. 11 2-22. ROBERT S, W ADO L P H E, 1 933. Sir Henry Morgan: Buccaneer and Governor New York: Covici, Friede. , 1 95 1 Six Great Jamaicans: Biographical Sketches Kingston: Pioneer Press. ROBOTHAM, DON 2000. Blackening the Jamaican Nation: The Travels of a Black Bourgeoisie in a Globalized World. Identities 7: 1 -37. SC HWA RT Z, BA RR Y, 1 99 1 Social Change and Collective Memory: The Democratization of George Washington. American Sociological Review 56:22 1 -36. SEMMEL, BERNARD, 1962. The Governor Eyre Controversy London: MacGibbon and Kee. THOMAS, DEBORAH A. 2004. Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica Durham NC: Duke University Press. WALVIN, JAMES, 1994. The Life and Times of Henry Clarke of Jamaica, 1827-1907 Ilford, U.K.: Frank Cass. WI LL, H A 1 970. Constitutional Change in the British West Indies 1880-1903 Oxford: Clarendon Press. WI LL I A M S, ERIC, 1 942. The Negro in the Caribbean Washington DC: The Associates in Negro Folk Education. ZIMMER, OLIVER 2003. A Contested Nation: History, Memory and Nationalism in Switzerland, 1761-1891 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. HO WA RD JO H N S ON History and Black American Studies University of Delaware Newark DE 1 97 1 6, U.S.A.
OLV I A M.G. CUN HAT RAVEL E THNOGRAPHY AND N ATION IN THE W RITINGS OF R MULO L ACHATA R AND A RTHUR R AMOSIn 1 9281 929 the Brazilian writer Mrio de Andrade began publishing in a local newspaper the material he had collected during his travels to the inte rior of Brazil. 1 The journal entries, personal itineraries, essays, poetry frag ments, and photographs he had amassed over two long journeys through the northern and northeast regions composed a unique ethnography, which Andrade entitled O turista aprendiz ( 1 976, The apprentice tourist). The idea of the scholar abandoning the center and, therefore, displacing urban culture and written language, a notion inherent in his own experi ence, made him view travel as an experience of interpretation rather than merely observation. Through what was an attempt at producing an eth nography, Andrade not only generated information, but created a unique encounter inspired by the idea of apprenticeship. Instead of conceiving of himself as an ethnographer, Andrade preferred to think of himself as a special kind of tourist, there not only to observe, but also to learn. The intriguing connections between anthropology, modernism, and nationalism in the work of Mrio de Andrade invite comparisons with other Latin American texts from the same period (Guicharnaud-Tollis 1 982, Kutzinski 1 993, Masiello 1 993). However, in this essay, the modali t y of travel described in O turista aprendiz will be used not as a paradigm, but as an inspiring starting point to explore an issue which has been examined 1. The first version of this essay was presented at the Center for Latin American Studies Seminar at the University of Michigan, on March 27, 2000. I owe many thanks to Sueann Caulfield, Julie Skurski, and Fernando Coronil for their stimulating comments. Different phases of the research and writing received generous support from Verena Stolcke, Sally and Richard Price, Rosemarijn Hoefte, and the three anonymous reviewers of NWIG who helped me to clarify both text and ideas. I am thankful to the collegiality of Diana Lachataer and Kevin Yelvington who shared their own research material with me. Hilary Burger, Jessica Callaway, and Amy Chazkel revised different versions of this essay. I thank DRCLAS at Harvard University and CNPq for the research support. New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007):219-257
220 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA in the anthropological literature from different perspectives: the place(s) designated local, peripheral, native, or national by anthropological inter pretations in the constitution of different areas or fields of the discipline. 2 The image of an apprentice anthropologist brings to mind the work of two very different Latin American intellectuals, both of whom were living in the United States in the early 1940s, Rmulo Lachatar (1909-1951) and Arthur Ramos (1903-1949). Besides being travelers, both authors had been involved in transnational arrangements and politics of institutional cooperation aimed at establishing the means for debate, research, and teach ing of Afro-American studies in institutions in the United States and Latin America. These academic and cultural policies involved diverse situations and intellectual positioning regarding political cooperation, activism against racism, and other experiences that combined exile and professional train ing. A careful examination of these positions allows us alternative insights into the trajectories of these authors in the United States, and the images they produced on the place of race in national representations. Each one permits us to discover a different history of the field they helped to create in the discipline, allowing us to understand the national intellectual tradition in which they were formed and exor included, and, mainly, the place of travel as an experience of displacement and reflection through which the exercise of comparison was possible. In the following, I approach two professional trajectories directly linked to experiences of travel and displacement as an object of analysis so as to be able to reflect on these forms of inscription and their implications in possible readings on the production of histories of the discipline, the birth of so-called Afro-American Studies, and the trans national dialogues that allowed for the production of knowledge, forms of subjectification, and images of nation that populate the intellectual debate from 1 930 to the 1 950s (Price & Price 2003, Yelvington 2006). TR AV E LS A ND TR AV E L ER S In the archive of Arthur Ramos, maintained by the National Library in Rio de Janeiro, the record of Ramoss experience in the United States is presented as it relates to his contributions to the development of anthropology in Brazil. Postcards, photographs, letters, syllabi, posters advertising lectures, train tickets, abbreviated notes and a series of short essays published in Brazilian newspapers document Ramoss stay and travels in the United States between 1 940 and 1 94 1 during which time he lectured at Louisiana State University. Lachatars papers have not been brought together in a single archive and 2 Asad 1973, Fahim 1982, Cardoso de Oliveira 1988, Fardon 1990, Narayan 1993, Thomas 1 994, Peirano 1 998, Gupta & Ferguson 1 997.
221 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION remain dispersed among several different national and ethnographic archives. While Ramos came as part of a cultural exchange, Lachatar left Cuba in 1 939 shortly after having been arrested because of his involvement with the Cuban Communist Party. From Baton Rouge and the streets of Harlem they reflected on Brazil, Cuba, their experiences, and their places in the configura tion of a field and their role in its development. The differences between Ramos and Lachatar are remarkable when we consider their professional status and public intellectual recognition questions that go beyond the scope of this text not to mention their particular approaches to shared topics of interest. Beyond the places occupied by each in national histories of the dis cipline, there are differences in regard to the volume of their respective intel lectual productions. Ramos produced an enormous quantity of books and arti cles during his career as a psychiatrist and anthropologist, while Lachatar had set out to begin formal training in anthropology when he died suddenly in a plane accident. In contrast to Lachatars condition as an exile in the United States, where he went in 1 939 to escape political persecution in Cuba, Ramos was in the country because of the Good Neighbor policy involving cultural, economic, and political ties between Latin America and the United States (Espinosa 1 976, Pike 1 995). It was in these terms, at least, that his visits to different North American universities were understood by those who spon sored his lectures and meetings. 3 Nonetheless Ramoss and Lachatars writ ings during and after their stays in the United States between 1 939 and 1 95 1 reveal identical approaches to the tasks involved in defining, describing, and interpreting the relation between nation and race, respectively, in Brazil and Cuba. Although they shared a mixture of repulsion and attraction to the trou bled racial politics and images of the United States, Lachatars and Ramoss writings reveal dissimilar intellectual and political perspectives. As many studies have shown, experiences of displacement associated with specific forms of production of knowledge are also directly linked to other forms of colonial and imperial expansion. 4 Since the 1960s, many authors 3 As mentioned by Elsie Clews Parsons in a letter to her friend and protg Melville Herskovits, Ramos and the Peruvian folklorist Fernando Romero were sent to her by the U.S. Department of State (Elsie Clews Parsons, March 20, 1 94 1 Melville Herskovits Papers, Box 1 8, Northwestern University Archives, [hereafter MHP/NWUA]) in Evanston, Illinois. In this same year, the Brazilian Dante de Laytano, a specialist in folklore and the history of southern Brazil, traveled to Washington and later visited Fisk University under the auspices of the Department of State (letter, M. Herskovits to Charles S. Johnson, September 25, 1942, Box 25, MHP/NWUA). Elsewhere I have described Ramoss uses of this trip after his return to Brazil in 1941 (Cunha 2004). For a list of Latin American and North American scholars sponsored by the cultural exchange policy between 1936 and 1 948 see Espinosa 1 976. 4 Pratt 1 986, 1 992, Clifford 1 988, 1 989, 1 992, 1 997a, 1 997b, Scott 1 989, 1 99 1 Marcus 1 99 1 Hulme & Youngs 2002.
222 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA have been pointing to the politics of production of anthropological knowl edge, immersed in a tangled field of relations of power inside and outside academic institutions. 5 The advent of area studies in the post-World War II period, for instance, subjected to critical analysis through connections to other forms of political intervention linked to the production of knowledge, is an important example in which travel, transnational intellectual dialogues, and politics of exchange are intimately linked. With regard to Latin America and the Caribbean, the rare existing historical analyses are partial descrip tions that overlook to some extent the historical vicissitudes and political implications of this construction (Mintz 1 964, 1 977, 1 998, Slocum 2003). In most cases, intellectual and institutional expansion in diverse fields is described as the logical outcome of a process of intervention within the polit ical context of the discipline in the United States. A large tree with strong and long branches could be a kind of metaphor and model for the representation of the process of reproduction of the discipline, as well as its respective prac tices and relations in center and periphery settings. The movement of reproduction, appropriation, criticism, and contestation of ideas, positioning, and canons seems consistently to follow a north-south orientation. However, it is possible, at least, to imagine another alternative historical narrative that instead of challenging and shifting these polarized efforts, stresses their pro visional and transnational dimensions (Mintz 1977, 1998, Trouillot 1992, 1998, Yelvington 2006). Besides the political implications of the conditions that permitted the expansion of specialized travel and the kind of repre sentations of others produced by metropolitan observers in postcolonial areas, little attention has been paid to more recent forms of travel devel oped in this period in the opposite direction (Narayan 1993, Peirano 1998, Di Leonardo 2000). That is, travelers who crossed the boundaries of settings canonically established as sources of anthropological knowledge, on the way to other settings supposedly conceived of as places for analysis, theoriza tion, and reflection about data gathered elsewhere. Examining the sources related to the birth of Afro-American studies, including publications, minutes of meetings, letters, and dissertations written by its most influential figures in the mid1 930s and 1 940s, I realized that the experience of travel on the part of Latin American scholars, especially to the United States, played a significant role in the elaboration of interpretations of the interplay between race and nation in Latin America. The travels in ques tion were not necessarily conceived of as ethnographic trips or field trips but understood as professional training experiences. 6 After 1936, cultural 5 Wolf 1 974, Mead 1 979, Stocking 1 992, Borneman 1 995, Goldman & Neiburg 1 998. 6 Editorial limitations do not allow me to detail the institutional policies initiated in this period, nor their impact in Latin American intellectual settings. Although in this essay I have relied on material related to Ramoss and Lachatanrs travels in the United States,
223 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION exchange involving the United States and selected Latin American coun tries had become standard practice through different, although related, poli cies instituted by the U.S. Department of State and various North American educational and research institutions. 7 The expression cultural exchange is mentioned not only in the official minutes of meetings about American economic and foreign policy regarding what were then called the Hispanic Republics, but also in academic and intellectual circles in both the United States and Latin America. 8 What inspired me to explore these policies further is the way in which different experiences of travel conceived of as cultural exchange to implement official political and educational agendas, as well as travel as exile and critical positioning on national politics of race, mediated and informed a complex transnational dialogue between scholars and stu dents in the field of Afro-American Studies in Latin America. It is important to emphasize that Ramos and Lachatar did not fol low the same agendas and travel destinations prescribed by these policies of exchange. Whereas they had gone to the United States with different motives and objectives, they moved in similar intellectual spaces and networks, drew my understanding was made possible through contact with other archives and collections of North American and Latin American contemporary authors who engaged in field research who were involved in cultural exchange programs or both. Among others, I carried out research in the Arthur Ramos Collection (Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro), Melville Herskovits Papers and Melville and Jean Herskovits Papers (respectively, Northwestern University and Schomburg Center for Black Culture, New York), Julius Rosenwald Fund (Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee), Fernando Ortiz Collections (Instituto de Literatura y Lingustica and Biblioteca Nacional Jos Mart, both in Havana). Important parts of Lachatars private documents were kindly made available by his daughter, Diana Lachatar, curator of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture. She has been collecting her fathers professional documents and has done research on institutions with which Lachatar made contacts during his stay in the United States, namely, the Julius Rosenwald Fund and Columbia University. References to these materials will appear here as courtesy of Diana Lachatar. 7 See especially the following issues of the Department of State Bulletin : Exchange of Professors and Students between the United States and the other American Republics, 1 939 ( 1 3:289-9 1 ); Conference on Inter-American Relations in the Field of Education, 1 939 ( 1 9:464-5: 1 46); Inter-American Professor Exchange, 1 940 (4 1 :357-62); Exchange Professors and Students, 1 940 (6 1 : 1 49). See Travel Grants to Professors and Students, 1 940 (67:282). 8 An exception to the trend among U.S. researchers of travel to different Latin American countries, Brazilian anthropologist Octvio da Costa Eduardo was a student of Melville Herskovits between 1 94 1 1 943 on a U.S. Department of State fellowship, and a Rockefeller fellowship, which was granted in 1 942 for the purpose of gathering observations about the Negro situation in the South and other areas ([letter] Octvio da Costa Eduardo to Brazilian consulate in Chicago, Evanston, Illinois, April 26, 1 943, Octvio da Costa Eduardo Papers, Box 1 Folder 1 Northwestern University Archive [hereafter OCEP/ NWUA]).
224 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA similar expectations and interests on the part of their American colleagues and used information and knowledge gathered during their travels as central elements of a comparative discourse. At the same time, the texts that narrate or refer to these experiences do not constitute travel writings as a narrative genre or ethnographies, if they are interpreted from an academic perspec tive. What Ramos and Lachatar had in common in the writings produced during or after traveling to the United States was not related to their specific travel experiences, but to the merging of ethnographic and travelogue styles in political exile, cultural exchange policies, and personal projects. In this sense, they do not reduce these texts to simple events in their different pro fessional trajectories but to a body of knowledge that gives birth specifically to forms of intellectual dialogue and positioning. TH ROUG H T H E BA C KYA RD O F AMERIC A: A BR AZ I L I A N TR AV E L ER IN BA TON ROUGE It is not the poetry of the river that waits for us: it is the crude and monumental symphony of oil which penetrates the senses, when we enter through the backyard of America (Ramos 1 940a:49). Among the various remnants, photographs, and texts that document Arthur Ramoss travel through different cities and university campuses in the United States, certain items caught my attention. Out of drafts and copies of letters, I came across a collection of notes entitled Brazil Misunderstood, prob ably written on board the ship that brought Ramos and his wife back to Rio. These consisted of a short list of carefully numbered points that exposed foreign ignorance of basic information on South America. On a tiny piece of paper there were statements such as Brazilians speak Spanish, The capital of Brazil is Buenos Aires, and The Indian population can be seen in Brazilian cities. It is not difficult to imagine Ramoss frustration. He often described his role in the United States as that of a translator, charged with teaching Brazil for beginners. From the time he left Brazil in the autumn of 1940, he seemed to consider his travel a kind of missionary practice that combined nationalist sympathies and professional commitments. In the jour nal Diretrizes he published a column in which he presented weekly render ings of his experience in the United States. Entitled Movimento cultural (Cultural movement), it was intended to be a special correspondence on cultural issues and everyday aspects of North American life 9 rather than ethnography. While not claiming to be authoritative, his impressions served 9 See, for example, Ramos 1 939 and 1 94 1 b.
225 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION to draw attention among a wider audience to Ramoss reputation and unusual sensibility during his travel of studies. He wrote his first descriptions of what he called the antechamber of America on the basis of observations about the way North American passengers on the Delta Line regarded him. A university professor, and not an exotic product of the tropics, Ramos sought to present and explain Brazilians and Brazilian Culture to a select audi ence. In his first writings, apparently written on board the ship, high-school teachers, college students, middle-class families, and a missionary who had been among the Maoris, were some of the diverse individuals he mingled with the memories of an already homesick traveler.1 0 Arthur Ramos was, however, more interested in other things. He often told readers of his column that, in addition to teaching courses on Race and Culture in Brazil, he intended to conduct research on the culture and behav ior of the Black population in the Deep South to compare his findings with his Brazilian data. This interest deserves greater consideration in light of his prior experiences as a researcher in the then emerging field of Afro-Brazilian Studies during the 1 930s. As the son of a prestigious physician and a traditional family from Pilar (a small city in the state of Alagoas) Ramos shared with his generation and its professors an engaged view of the role of medicine. 11 Medicine was seen as part of a wider curative and redemptive project of social transformation rather than as exclusively limited to clinical therapy. Moving from catastrophic to more optimistic interpretations of the effects of race and social mixture in Brazil, Ramoss intellectual generation envisioned multiple mechanisms to correct the nations ills: poverty, illiteracy, illness, backwardness, and, for some authors, signs of degeneracy. Eugenic and nationalist projects endorsed most of the corrective prescriptions that a number of authors had produced to heal the nation. Curiously, instead of being diametrically opposed, some of them were complementary. Interchanging categories such as race and individual often associated with notions of a racialized national image and nationalized 1 0. Ramos 1 940b. In his notes his encounter with this ethnologist-missionary would have occurred on September 1 2, 1 940. See also Ramos 1 940a: 1 01 2. 11 Although Ramoss influence was decisive for the institutionalization of anthropology in Brazil and the choice, in the early 1 950s, of Brazil as a laboratory for research on race relations, there are few works dedicated to his varied political and intellectual partici pation in the discipline. For forensic influences in his work, and later, his affinities with acculturation studies, Ramoss ideas and works were considered outside the discipline to be something less defined or very close to a folklorist tradition, or, at least, classified as a kind of prehistory of anthropology in Brazil. This view is directly related to the criti cism of acculturation studies in the Brazilian anthropological literature of the 1950s and 1960s. On different aspects of Ramoss career and works, see Fernandes et al. 1950, de Souza Carneiro 1951, Diaz Duarte 1997, Correa 1998, Stolcke 1998, Chor Maio 1998, and Cunha 1 999. For a biographical account see Barros 2005.
226 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA racial identity (as, for instance, Brazilian race and Colored Brazilians) they focused on national illness and disorder through metaphors inspired by medical and biological terminology. As a body, the nation deserved not only a panacea, but also interpretive tools that would help its interpreters, who were frequently upper class, conservative, and state representatives of the intellec tual elite, to invest in unique narratives of brasilidade : Brazilians and Brazils past and fate. This tendency followed diverse intellectual orientations and constituted a complex territory of ideas involving social movements, artistic engagement, aesthetic desires, and political commitments related to the pro cess of institutionalization of the social sciences in Brazil.1 2 Scientific approaches and nationalism were linked through local and national perspectives. A prestigious group of intellectuals, of Ramoss gen eration, who had graduated from medical and law schools, was committed to both regional and national interpretations of a subject Nina Rodrigues had hyphenated and studied from a scientific perspective in the late nineteenth century, the Afro-Brazilian element. When the young Arthur Ramos left Pilar by 1 922 to study at the prestigious Faculty of Medicine of Bahia in Salvador, he found an exciting setting for research and studies devoted to pub lic health, tropical disease, and forensic medicine strongly inspired by Cesare Lombroso and ideas of Italian criminology. During his period of residence in a psychiatric hospital in Salvador, Ramos came into contact with new thera pies and literature on mental illness that related some of its manifestations to primitive people and cultures. He was also called on to deliver diagnoses of mental disorders associated with Afro-religious practices, whose suffer ers were at that time persecuted by the police and local authorities. In his doctoral thesis and first book Primitivo e loucura ( 1 926, Primitiveness and madness), and later, his dissertation prepared for tenure, Sordidness among Madmen ( 1 928, A sordcie nos alienados ), Ramos used cases he collected in both the hospital and the penitentiary as primary data for his first works on ethnology and psychiatry ( 1 928, 1 93 1 1 932, 1 933a, 1 933b, 1 934, 1 935, 1 937). Inspired by the ideas of Nina Rodrigues and theories of Lvy-Bruhl on the mental incapacity of primitive cultures, he viewed delinquency and madness among Blacks as unconscious manifestations that deserved treat ment rather than punishment.1 3 His 1 928 work was in part the result of an 1 2. Lamarckian approaches were extremely popular among Brazilian authors during this period. They are the core of Whitening ideas, but can also be found in the theories of its well-known critics, such as Gilberto Freyre. See Stocking, Jr. 1 968, Stepan 1 99 1 and Arajo 1994. On body and degeneration metaphors see Lenharo 1986, Ventura 1991, Borges 1 993, Needell 1 995, and Cunha 1 999, 2002. 1 3. He was an ardent supporter of the adoption of medical, hygienic, and psychological techniques in the study of juvenile delinquency, crime, and problems related to the educa tion of children (Dias Duarte 2000).
227 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION assignment from the chief of police, Bernardino Madureira de Pinho, to study the installation of an insane asylum in Salvador. It was also by this time that he entered into contact with similar approaches used by Fernando Ortiz in Cuba. Among his notes and reviews of criminology and psychiatry periodi cals, probably written in the late 1 920s, I found penciled comments on a series of cards which suggest that he had discovered some convergence between data collected by Ortiz in Havana and those documented by Nina Rodrigues more than twenty years earlier. Reading Ortizs depictions of the superstition of criminals among Afro-Cubans in Havana, Ramos noticed the combina tion of different religious traditions in contact in a setting of marginalization. The combination of African and Catholic saints in Cuba and Brazil formed the basis for what Nina Rodrigues called fetishistic practices among the Black population. Ramos at that time called the combination of practices from diverse religious origins a phenomenon of assimilation. Understanding it in this way did not allow him to imagine any further conceptual implications of its use, and he would later refer to it with the term syncretism (Herskovits 1 958:xxii, 249, 250). Indeed, in the earliest of his writings, Ramos recognized Nina Rodriguess authority regarding the prominence of Yoruba religious practices among Brazilian Negroes: He [Ortiz] reveals (exactly as Nina did in Bahia) Black and slave fetishist remnants in Cuba ... African fetishism was maintained in Cuba not only due to the natural inferior state of the Black race but also to different psychic stratifications of imported masses of Whites, whose proximity to the African level of psyche, has facilitated the communion of ideas and racial prejudice.1 4 Although his interests and professional activities made him known to an influential generation of intellectuals devoted to the uses of scientific tools in social reform projects, Ramoss intellectual trajectory wavered between two apparently contradictory tendencies. On the one hand he maintained friendships and built ties with a group of Bahian intellectuals, adherents of what they called the Nina Rodrigues School who took a characteristically scientific approach to treating the Negro problem. On the other hand, his transition from forensic approaches to a focus on psychoanalysis drew him into the terrain of ethnology. It was through a psychological perspective that Ramos transformed the racial determinism of Nina Rodriguess ideas into an ethnological problem. More than relying on positivist criminological litera ture as Rodrigues and many of his disciples had, Ramos chose to focus on mental illness, criminality, and the so-called pathological behaviors attrib uted to backwards and primitive races using Freud and Lvy-Bruhls ideas. 1 4. Arthur Ramoss notes, [ 1 926-28], Folder 38, 1 BN/CAR.
228 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA Starting in 1 928, when Ramos began to work as a psychiatrist in the So Joo de Deus hospital in Salvador, he had demonstrated talent and skill in com bining medical and forensic practices with a more social-sciences-oriented approach to primitive cultures and folklore.1 5 After having moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1933 to work at an institute of psychological and educational research, Ramos was no longer exclusively a physician and psychiatrist devoted to issues of mental illness. Besides Freud and Lvy-Bruhl, he had been timidly incorporating other literature into his eugenic and pathological view of race issues in Brazil. This move had to do with his interest in study ing Afro-Brazilian folklore and religious practices.1 6 To understand the Negro mentality Ramos became an avid reader of the history of slavery in Brazil and the New World, Africanist ethnology and his tory, and religion. His first book entirely devoted to negro religion and folk lore, O negro brasileiro (1934), is a collection of essays in which data on slavery and the history of the Atlantic slave trade combined with readin g s on African cultures form the background for a wider understanding of the histo r y and culture of the Brazilian Negro. Contrary to Gilberto Freyre who a year before had published Casa grande & senzala ( The Master and the Slaves ; see Freyre 1 946) as a sociological history of Brazilian society, Ramoss first writings on what was called the Negro problem were the result of a distinct and intense political engagement. Combining his previous experiences as a physician and psychiatrist in Salvador and Rio, short fieldwork experiences among practitioners of Afro-Brazilian cults in some northeastern cities, con tact and correspondence with Afro-Brazilian movements in So Paulo, and wider literature on slavery and religion, Ramos not only reoriented his ini tial perspective but also used this knowledge to support public and political battles against racial determinism. Between 1934 and 1938 he advocated and participated in public debates about murders involving accusations of witchcraft, religious and messianic movements, and banditry in northeastern Brazil, stressing their cultural and social rather than their racial causes and implications. In a period marked by strong intellectual nationalist-oriented activism, Ramos was often called upon to advocate his ideas against racial determinism. In 1935 he championed a manifesto against racism and later promoted it in many public debates on the criminality of the poor, illiterate, 1 5. Ramos assumed explicitly these interests and his contacts with race problems throu g h forensic practices ( Ramos 1 940c:38). 1 6. It was through Ramoss commitment to highlighting the cultural orientation of prac tices usually observed through a pathological perspective that his authority as an anthro pologist specialized in Negro issues emerged. Moreover, the influence, prestige, and encouragement of Afrnio Peixoto, a former student and most prominent follower of Nina Rodrigues, were decisive in recognizing Ramoss leadership in the Nina Rodrigues School. On the Nina Rodrigues School see Correa 1 998.
229 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION and racially mixed population from the backwards northeast, and in marking the official celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of abolition (Stolcke 1 998, Cunha 1 999). Ramos assumed without hesitation that his intellectual trajectory had suf fered shifts. In his first letter to Roger Bastide in 1 938, he introduced himself as someone who came into contact with Bahian Blacks and other popular groups through his profession as a clinical and forensic physician: Initially I became interested in studying psycho-physiological manifestations in cer tain Black religious phenomena, mainly, the so called estado de santo [state of saint].1 7 In a way, anthropology in Ramoss work was seen as a theoreti cal and methodological tool, as well as a kind of modern language to deal with culture (Wagner 1981). Between 1932 and 1937 he published three books, and also articles, which together consecrated him fully as a Brazilian anthropologist (Stolcke 1 998, Barros 2005). Within this tradition and nationalist commitment we can situate Ramoss view and interpretation of anthropology and its derived practice, field work. Medical reports and stories collected by his relatives and friends in Alagoas, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro have figured as the main sources of his well-received books O negro brasileiro (1934) and O folk-lore negro do Brasil (1935). In many cases, access to practitioners of sects ( seitas ) was facilitated by the hierarchical position his informants maintained with their domestic servants, employees, and their respective relatives and friends. In Pilar, where he returned once in 1932 following his departure for Salvador, Ramos established a network of informants with the help of relatives. In Salvador, his friendship with the person whom he called his student, dison Carneiro, brought him material and symbolic benefits. Carneiro sent consid erable information on Candombl and other Afro-Brazilian cults. Although the extent and nature of the practice of ethnographical data was not well known, as the Brazilian anthropologist perhaps most well known during the 1 940s, Ramos, suffered accusations of a lack of training in anthropology and the excessive influence of Nina Rodrigues in his work. In fact, what really mattered for him was finding, discovering, and collecting facts, the main subject of his preoccupations. Their systematization, he pointed out, will come naturally later: by asking the how of these facts, we will be follow ing the historical-cultural method, by asking its why, we will be engaging in psychoanalysis (Ramos 1 935: 11 1 2).1 8 To his prior identity of collector, Ramos added that of traveler. The shifts that occurred in Ramoss work are also related to his experience in the United 1 7. Arthur Ramos, Rio de Janeiro, 1 /8/ 1 938, BN/CAR. 1 8. In this book (1935), Ramos thanked his informants, and social psychology and Brazils history professors. I discuss some of implications of Ramoss ethnographic data elsewhere (Cunha 2004).
230 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA States. However, they have more to do with his engagement with a wider intellectual context and conversation about the role of anthropology in war time. Whether observing him as a traveler with a (nationalist) project, or approaching his travel as a project reconfigured through the experience of a specialized tourist, we can consider a number of passages from Ramoss sojourn in the United States in association with the tokens he preserved in his archives. Among them are his speeches, lectures, and presentations in round-tables at universities, professional associations, and discussion groups on problems of war. Ramoss contact with North American agencies and scholars began around 1 938, and involved mutual interests. It was Richard Pattee, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Puerto Rico who, according to Espinosa ( 1 976:92), was an expert on inter-American cultural history recruited by the Division of American Republics (Department of State) to improve the con tacts between North American and Latin American scholars and educational institutions. Pattee first made possible the communication between intellectu als such as Ramos, Melville Herskovits, Fernando Ortiz, Jean Price-Mars, and others.1 9 Through Pattees mediation and intervention, some of these scholars initiated a prolific correspondence not only about their research interests and plans but also about the possibility of benefiting from these cultural exchange programs. These interventions aimed to implement good nationhood politics through cultural exchange programs but, mainly, to disseminate the achieve ments of U.S. higher education institutions in Latin America. As a Rockefeller Foundation representative writes in a letter to Herskovits: A small number of the best men would be more effective in transmitting to Latin American Scholars and institutions a knowledge of the Social Science methods developed in our own country; such men would be able to size up the research opportunities available to younger American scholars in these countries; and through a detailed knowledge of the problems and of the per sonnel of the various Latin American countries they would be in a position to furnish adequate advice to American foundations and other institutions for the training of Latin American personnel in the social sciences. 20 As Ramos justified to Herskovits in one of the first letters exchanged by both in 1938, his most ardent desire was to bring together as much as pos -1 9. However, besides Pattees trip and personal contacts with Latin American and North American intellectuals, a set of ambitious programs of cooperation was already being implemented by private U.S. educational institutions and Latin American governments and scholars. The role of the Division of Cultural Relations at the Department of State as a coordination of these programs was to select and evaluate scholars nominated as potential fellowship recipients, and, organize the Latin American visitors trips within the United States. 20. Philip E. Mosely, August 4, 1 94 1 Box 20, NWUA/MHP.
231 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION sible Brazil to North America.2 1 However, Ramoss first applications were neglected by the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations owing to the Brazilian stance in the war. 22 Only in 1940, through the intervention and notoriety of Herskovits, Lewis Hanke, and Richard Pattee did he receive a Guggenheim Fellowship to extend his studies at Northwestern University following his stay as a lecturer at Louisiana State University. 23 However, wartime somehow changed Ramoss interest in a stay at a U.S. university. During his trip, Ramos was invited by many scholars and institutions to speak about Brazil, and mainly about its racial ideology during war times, rather than the research he was supposedly doing as an anthropologist. His posi tion on race relations in Brazil attracted the interest of diverse intellectuals engaged in the politics of race within and outside academic arenas (Ramos 1 94 1 c, 1 943a, 1 949). In their interest in placing war problems on the social science agenda for inter-American cooperation, Melville Herskovits and Charles A. Thompson, the chief of the Division of Cultural Relations at the State Department, included both Arthur Ramos and Gilberto Freyre as Brazilian representatives at the seminar on Racial Minorities in the Present International Crisis held at Stanford in 1941. The organizers anticipated that Ramos would play an important role in this meeting. They expected that Ramos would combine his impressions on race relations in Brazil and the future of democracy in the Americas. In a letter of invitation, they recommended the overarching theme that would orient his paper. A brief but comprehensive statement describ ing the present position of the Negro in Brazil as a minority racial group, with reference to the importance of strengthening political alliances between Brazil and the United States. They asked that he include explanations about the extent to which Hitlers victory in Europe might have on the present position of the Negro in Brazil, and an indication of what the position of the Negro in Brazil would be, could be, and should be if Britain or the United States wins and democracy is saved for the world. 24 Ramos added 2 1 Arthur Ramos, May 30, 1 938, CAR/BN. 22. The official position of the government of Getlio Vargas regarding Axis influence was deemed ambiguous by the U.S. government agencies; it was also taken into conside ration by North American intellectuals, institutions, and foundations in the selection and sponsorship of scholars and students from Brazil. 23. Although connected to Herskovits and interested in carrying out fieldwork in the U.S. South, Ramos went to the U.S. by invitation of the urban sociologist T. Lynn Smith who went to Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1946 and wrote extensively on agrarian issues on Brazil. 24. Charles A. Thompson, March 5, 1941, Box 19, Folder 14, NWUA/MHP. In the first American Anthropological Association meeting that devoted a special session to a dis cussion of the South American ethnic situation, Ramoss presence as a Latin American scholar held powerful and authoritative importance. Melville Herskovits, particularly
232 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA to his very optimistic views of the situation of the Afro-Brazilian population the idea that Brazils role in the debate about the war would not only influ ence but would be used as a model for democratic society. As he stated in his depictions of Brazilians views on race: Negroes and Mulattos are integral elements of the national life; their opportunities are the same as the other racial groups in the participation in social and cultural activities. This tradition in the treatment of races is a matter of pride in Brazil. Negroes and Mulattos as well have the same opportunities and participate in all aspects of Brazilian life ... the discus sion of superiority or inferiority of races has never been raised in Brazil. There is no master race in Portuguese America. I do not think, therefore, that the situation of the Brazilian Negro is connected with the destiny of the so-called democracies in the World. In Brazil we have one of the pur est racial democracies in the Western Hemisphere ... It is not preferable not to put this racial problem in terms of future of political democracies of the world, but rather in terms of the philosophy of each country, in its treatment of races ... The Negroes in Brazil do not need any other philoso phy to substitute for their own. They ask only that they be left alone in their own surroundings to continue an old tradition of freedom, tolerance and liberty on Brazilian soil. They not need lessons and prospects for the world to come. They already have facts, wonderful facts. They want to be heard, because they have much to teach the superior races in this troubled world. (Ramos 1 94 1 a:5 1 5) Ramos was not alone in his very positive view of the supposedly innate Brazilian attitude of tolerance and acceptance on the part of Negroes of a benign philosophy of race. Gilberto Freyre (1941:513) also contributed to an edited issue of the Journal of Negro Education with a comment about the unpopularity of fascist ideas among the poor and illiterate. Brazils colo nial past and national imagination explained, in Ramos and Freyres view, the uniqueness of the so-called Brazilian tradition, as well as its natural committed to drawing Ramos to the meeting of the association, stressed the symbolic and political importance of the Brazilian anthropologist. As Ramos was unable to obtain funding for himself and his wife to travel to Philadelphia, Herskovits presented Ramoss paper on Acculturation among the Brazilian Negroes (Melville Herskovits, December 6, 1 940, Box 1 9, Folder 1 4, NWUA/MHP). Herskovits recommended Ramos, at that time already in Baton Rouge, and Gilberto Freyre, as people who might be advantageous for the Division of Cultural Relations to bring to the United States (Melville Herskovits to Charles Thomson, September 18, 1940, Box 25, NWUA/MHP). It should be noted that Freyre was another frequent and early traveler to the United States. His impressions of the U.S. South were decisive in his depictions of the plantation of the Brazilian northeast. Space limitations do not allow me to discuss in this essay the implications of Freyres travels and passage through different universities in the United States between the 1 920s and 1 940s, and their importance in drawing attention to his interpretation of Brazil
233 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION antipathy toward the importation of models, of the foreign and the unknown. Anti-imperialist feelings fed the national imagination and a supposedly benign colonial experience would surpass its boundaries and be used as a model for other nations. These comments were not made in conjunction with impressions Ramos had of the African-American rural population in Louisiana. However, to some extent, a comparative view informed the very assumptions in his understanding of what he called the Brazilian Negro. Instead of appearing in the articles he wrote during his stay in Baton Rouge and Evanston, this contrastive tone appeared explicitly in his letter from the United States published in Diretrizes In an interview offered to the jour nal before his departure, Ramos revealed his plan of studies: to debate the Brazilian experience ... based on four centuries of wealthy humanism, and explore the Mississippi valley region as a field of investigation for com parative studies of the New World Negro. 25 Despite his plans, there are few indications that he succeeded in his pursuit. In part this was because of the understandable difficulty with communication in Creole, but also possibly because of the segregated nature of the university. In a later article he men tioned that he had made contacts with gumbo speakers who maintained African traditions, though he was not able to fully understand their dialects: All of this seems to pertain to a definitely dead past ... there are, however, some shadows roaming through its margins and I am making a great effort to listen to its gloomy voice ... the old Negro Carey from St. Francisville plantation and others, from old plantations in northern Baton Rouge from Oakley to Live Oak tell me in their almost incomprehensible gumbo, the history of migrations which depeopled Mississippi. Persecuted and ill-treat ed, Negroes lived roaming and looking for better places. I have seen their little houses made of wood, from the mouth of the river with its groups of fishermen, to the little towns of the Louisiana bayous. (Ramos 1 940a:50) Ramos prudently never mentioned segregation as a problem, but referred to it through rhetoric that mixed past memories with images of the U.S. South fabricated by books and movies. Rather than dealing with his personal experience of living in a White middle-class segregated university in Baton Rouge, he highlighted his position as a foreigner, a Brazilian (and never Latin American) professor who offered to White students a view of a para dise south of the Rio Grande. Ramos complained about the complete igno rance within intellectual circles of the people and lands of South America. With students, however, he seemed to be more complacent, perhaps because his position as a kind of translator of Brazilian racial philosophy did not 25. He also mentioned plans to contact scholars and carry out research on social psycho logy (citing Frank Alexanders and Smith Ely Jelliffes studies) concerning childhood, hygiene, and problems of mental illness ( Ramos 1 940b: 30).
234 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA seem to be threatened. In his archive there are many students letters and final term-papers, most of them suggesting positive impressions of Ramos and the Brazilian situation regarding race. Nevertheless, there is no mention of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, the South, or even the countrys racial problems. He even complained that Carmen Mirandas popularity in the country had produced distortions in the already confused image of Brazil as a Spanish-language country, and his view of his role in Baton Rouge was that he was a missionary who fulfilled his task: they recognized that much of their democracy has a lot to learn from ours. 26 Brazilian images, songs, and characters were actually the incidental theme of his ethnographic prose. Inspired by William Cullen Bryants Children of Old Man River, he wrote about his feeling of loss in realizing that Mississippi was no longer what North American literature and cinema had portrayed. Later, writing about some features which, in his view, produced the basis for common denominators of American Culture, Ramos suggested that what he had called the backyard of America was part of a larger map which drew together national fragments of the same human configuration, the Negro presence in the Americas. At the same time, this perception seemed reduced to an attempt to humanize an unknown geography. By seeing it through an already familiar lens, Ramos depicted the Mississippi as an extension of Brazilian landscapes: its [the rivers] presence constitutes one of those com mon denominators which give a uniform cast to American culture. The Negro slave in the Mississippi Valley is the same Negro as a slave in the valley of the Rio Parahyba in Brazil. The same voice, the same songs, the same physi ognomy, the same history (Ramos 1 940a:3 1 ). Oil, trains, pover t y, and human suffering (metaphorical references used by Ramos to refer to racism and seg regation) had changed the river, and by extension, an important symbol of the U.S. South. The Mississippi was a central image moving Ramos to observe the past of the South and draw connections with the Brazilian situation. The contrast, in this case, proved to be more relevant. It seems unlikely that he completed his planned fieldwork, although his North American colleagues may have encouraged him, and his expertise in Afro-Brazilian studies made it a particularly relevant undertaking. Nonetheless, it is his duties as a translator of Brazilian culture which are most evident in the archival material. In all the lectures he gave at American universities, Ramos stressed the benign character of the Brazilian racial scenario and attributed the shift from racial determinism to a cultural interpretation of race in Brazil to the emergence of the social sciences. Shortly after his return to Brazil, Ramos began to write parts of an essay in which he described Brazilian anthropology as both a tool and a language to combat racial intolerance. In Guerra e rela 26. Here, at the university people think that Seorita Miranda is Argentinean (Ramos 1 943b: 1 0; 1 942: 1 0).
235 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION es de raa (War and race relations, 1 943), Ramos clearly laid out the basis for his use of travel experiences in a nationalist and disciplinary focus. Rather than offering material for study, as he frequently stressed in his writings, the Brazilian tradition or philosophy of race as he often called it offered multiple tools to deal with problems of analysis regarding race relations. In Ramoss view, this position had its roots and history in the very development of the social sciences in Brazil, and in the early response of Brazilian intellec tuals to racial determinism in 1 935 (Chor Maio 1 998, Stolcke 1 998). In a way, what Ramos and some of his biographers referred to as an expe rience of transformation of his analytical tools from the influence of Nina Rodriguess School to a position strongly marked by his use of the concept of culture was not necessarily related to his travel experience in the United States but to the role he imagined a Brazilian anthropologist had to assume when working in wider efforts at intellectual cooperation. 27 Even if Ramos did not exactly challenge the plans some North American institutions and intellectuals had for him, he still used the knowledge and training he supposedly received during his trip to the United States for his own ben efit. While New World countries had features that could permit compara tive approaches to Afro-American studies, few were in a position to set up the basis for a wider program of studies. Rather than an applied discipline, anthropology had to be subject to the claims of a democratic order. Brazil, in Ramoss view, had exceptional conditions for pursuing this position. His highly nationalist approach to the role of anthropology in producing a scientific interpretation of nationality would be taken into account in two other institutional arrangements related to problems of race: the founding of the first Brazilian professional association of anthropology, the Brazilian Society of Anthropology and Ethnology, and later, Ramoss position in the Social Science Department at UNESCO, together with his insistence on the choice of Brazil as a laboratory for international research on race relations, just before his premature death in 1 949. 28AN HERDERO DE ABOLENGOS NEGRIBL A NCOSIn 1 94 1 when Rmulo Lachatar, a Cuban writer trained as a pharmacist, demonstrated interest in seeking advice from Herskovits and William Bascom, Herskovits referred to Arthur Ramos as someone already recognized for his 27. Even before Ramoss trip to the United States, the acculturation studies by Herskovits, Ralph Linton, and Robert Redfield had an important influence on the reorientation of his publications (Redfield et al 1 936, Herskovits 1 937, Ramos 1 94 1 b). 28. For an analysis of these experience see Stolcke 1998, Chor Maio 1998, and Barros 2005.
236 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA authority on Afro-Brazilian religion and who might be helpful to Lachatar in his plans to study in the United States. Following upon a letter from Lachatar in which he thanked Ramos for suggestions and comments on his research plans, they met in the spring of 1 94 1 in New York. Lachatars signature and dedication in his Manual de Santeria sent to Ramos in 1 942, is still preserved in one of the books in Ramoss collection. 29 Unlike for Arthur Ramos, we have little biographical information on Rmulo Lachatar and little significant intellectual production. 30 Besides a compilation of his books and articles published in Havana in 1992, and other writings published in Cuban and North American journals, of which Lachatar seemed to be unaware (as he cited in his application to the Julius Rosenwald Fund by 1 942) only fragments were left from his short career as an anthropology student (Lachatar 1992).3 1 From 1938, the date of his earliest writings, to his death in an airplane accident on his return from Puerto Rico to New York in 1 952, Lachatar wrote many articles presenting AfroCuban religions in a creative and innovative way. Since my aim is to produce a comparative overview of his interpretation of the relation between nation and race through his travel experience, rather than a biographical account of his life or a detailed analysis of his writings, the following information is admittedly tentative and incomplete. Rmulo Lachatar was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1909, in a family with a long history of involvement in the War of Independence. His grand father, a colored leader from a Haitian family of coffee farmers and former slaveholders, was directly involved in the insurgent movement and figures as one of its more important characters, Flor Crombet. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Oriente was also the important setting of an explic itly racialized political movement led by nonwhite Cubans which had rami fications throughout the island. The mobilization, organized as a political party and led by los Independientes de Color aimed at confronting racial and social inequalities in jobs, political representation, and at giving access to housing and education during the U.S. occupation. At the same time, its priorities and demands challenged the nationalist atmosphere of the after math of the War of Independence by proposing to discuss questions related 29. Para el Prof. Ramos con admiracin (To Professor Ramos with admiration). Dedication in Spanish in a volume of Lachat a rs Manual de Santeria in the Division of General Bibliography at the Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. 30. Besides Oh, mo yemay! Cuentos y cantos negros (1938, see Lachatar 1992a), Manual de Santeria (Lachat a r 1942), and articles published in Cuban and U.S. jour nals ( 1 939, 1 943, and 1 96 1 ), reprinted in 1 992a, 1 992b, 1 992c, 1 992d, and 1 992e, I loca ted other writings of Lachatar published posthumously: 1 952, 1 953. 3 1 Rmulo Lachatar y Crombet, [ 1 942], Julius Rosenwald Fund Application, Julius Rosenwald Collection, Special Collection/Fisk University.
237 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION to law, property rights, citizenship, and political power in the Afro-Cuban population. Lachatar spent his first years in a setting that featured the strong influence of Haitian migration and its descendant population, as well as the events that marked the Oriente region as a place of rebellion and racial insurgency. 32 After his first years of study in Santiago de Cuba, Lachatar moved to Manzanillo and Havana where he joined the Faculdad de Medicina y Farmacia at the University of Havana in 1 926. As a doctor specialized in pharmacy, he worked in the Institute of Venereal Diseases as a laboratory technician and, as noted in his biographies, was involved both with communist groups and literary avant-garde societies related to the Afrocubanismo movement. 33 This movement, which involved many aspects of cultural production and political participation in Cuba during the 1 920s, drew a heterogeneous group of artists, intellectuals, and political activists engaged in promoting a wider discussion on the very nature of the nationalist project envisaged by Jos Mart and other nationalist leaders at the turn of the century. The idea of a unified and homo geneous nation, regardless of race, began to be questioned by many prominent figures in a related intellectual mobilization during the 1 920s. Afrocubanismo allowed for the integration however conflictive and involving dissonant positions of white and nonwhite participation in a set of initiatives concern ing national representation. With ambivalent attitudes toward the place of the Afro-Cuban population in the representation and future of the nation, some of its participants were hesitant to adopt an integrationist discourse and concilia tory criticism. A rhetoric inspired by ethnology and folklore studies allowed for the proliferation of different spaces of discussion created to this end. The uses of and emphasis on African and black motifs in debates toward radi cally integrated alternatives to the nation moderated the radicalism of 1 9 1 2 and events of the early 1 930s. The publication of periodicals and perfor mances of poetry, music, and the arts were the main vehicles for the efferves cence of Afrocubanismo (Moore 1 997, Schwartz 1 998, Bronfman 2004). The 32. As Ferrer (1999) has pointed out, there are innumerable sources about the War of Independence period which refer to the contingency of volunteers who originated in Santiago de Cuba and nearby areas, by stressing racial features related to the incapacity of some troops led by negroes and mulattos to perform in a military and civilized spirit. On Flor Crombet, see Ferrer 1999:80-82 and de Crdova 1939. On the mobilization of the Partido Independiente de Color (PIC) and other struggles for racial equality in the first half of twentieth century see Prez, Jr. 1 986, Helg 1 995, Fuente 200 1 Bronfman 2004. 33. Rmulos biographical information is found in Guilln 1962, Instituto de Literatura 1980, Barreal 1992, and Diana Lachatar, Chronologia de la vida de Rmulo Lachatar y Crombet (manuscript, n/d, courtesy of Diana Lachatar). I also thank Angel Augier for sharing his knowledge and recollections of Lachataer. For critical readings and reviews on Lachatars writings, see Ortiz 1992, Portuondo 1938, 1945, Snchez 1 987, Castellanos 2002.
238 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA essay and poetry were the main styles chosen by this generation to establish the bases of its utopian project and national pursuits. The interpretations of Cubanidad a category that received different definitions, acted as multiple configurations of a common national desire for integration. As Alejandro de la Fuente argued, although some of the writers who followed this black craze portrayed blackness in highly stereotypical terms, others used cultural expres sions of perceived African origins to assert Afro-Cubans seminal contribution to Cubanness and to Cuban culture, emphasizing in the process the mestizo character of the Cuban nation (de la Fuente 200 1 : 1 82). One of the first media for discussion and dissemination of these ideas appeared in the creation of the Society of Cuban Folklore ( Sociedad del Folklore Cubano ) in 1923 and in the publication of writings of its members in the journal created by the society, the Archivos del Folklore ( 1 9241 930). Along with the avant-garde Revista de Avance (1927-1930), and later, the Estudios Afrocubanos ( 1 9371 940, 1 9451 946), they were privileged spaces for publicizing debates concerning literature and intellectual thought from a folklorist and nationalist perspective. In June 1936 the Society of AfroCuban Studies ( Sociedad de Estudios Afro-Cubanos ) was founded with more pragmatic motives: the careful study of ... literary phenomena produced in Cuba through the comingling of distinct races. (Sociedad de Estudios Afrocubanos 1 937:7). Among its exponents the society brought together figures such as the communist Juan Marinello, Afro-Cuban activists such as Gustavo Urrutia, and liberals such as Don Fernando Ortz and Israel Castellano, as well diverse artists and intellectuals, including Jos Luciano Franco, Nicols Guilln, Herminio Portell Vil, Miguel Angel Cspedes, and others. Rmulo Lachatar was also among its founders and it was in the magazine that he became known as folklorist. Fernando Ortiz was doubtless the leading figure of this intellectual move ment. Educated as a lawyer and trained under Italian positivist criminology by the turn of the nineteenth century, his major work on the Afro-Cuban population and their religious practices in Havana, Los negros brujos ( 1 906, see Ortiz 1917), had influenced not only Cuban state institutions and poli cymakers and their projects of social reform, but also intellectuals and their approaches to nation building. Nevertheless, in the late 1930s, Ortiz was recognized because of his connections to the Society of Afro-Cuban Studies and the journal Estudios Afro-Cubanos It was because of his contact with a younger and eclectic group of intellectuals that his writings began to reflect a modest reorientation. 34 Besides other political and intellectual reasons out 34. Since 1936 Ortiz had been publishing fragments of his Contrapunteo in the Revista Bimestre Among his later works that express this reorientation are Contrapunteo del tabaco y del azucar (1940, see Ortiz 1978), Marti y las razas (1942), El engao de las razas ( 1 946), and Los Negros y la transculturacin ( 1 95 1 ).
239 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION side the scope of this essay, this reorientation could be situated in the same complex network of U.S. foreign policy regarding Latin American countries and the place of anthropology in its agenda. Once exiled to the United States by Machados regime during the early 1930s, Ortiz served as interlocutor in transnational dialogues involving North American and Latin American scholars such as Pattee, Herskovits, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ramos, Price-Mars, and Frank Tannenbaum. The Cuban intellectual pursued plans of establishing the basis for an Inter-American Institute of Afro-American Studies in Havana by early 1 940s. 35 These contacts with and views on racial integration in Cuba permitted Ortiz to rethink the orientation of his first works, and to redirect and reframe his readings and writings toward what he called etnografia (eth nography). As in Ramos, his understanding of the role of the anthropology as both theoretical and methodological tools to understand Afro-Cuban culture and folklore was seemingly merged with a nationalist view on the place of Cuba as an example of racial harmony during times of war. 36 At any rate, in 1 940 Ortiz seemed touched by criticism his work had received from the pen of a young Afro-Cuban scholar. Lachatars earliest contributions to Estudios Afro-Cubanos drew the attention of participants and readers of the journal because they offered an opportunity to read alternative interpretations of Afro-Cuban religion pre sented by a young Afro-Cuban scholar who openly challenged Fernando Ortizs intellectual authority and his negative portrayal of Afro-Cuban reli gions (Lachatar 1939, 1940, 1945-46). 37 Although he frequently praised Ortizs books and personal support, Lachatars writings demonstrated a different approach to the Afro-Cuban religious practices than Ortiz depicted them in Los negros brujos (see Ortiz 1917). For Lachatar the use of the term brujos (witches) for people and brujeria (witchcraft) to describe their religious practices was inadequate and charged with prejudice. At the very least, he carefully argued, their use resulted from informants with bad inten tions or who did not know the nature of religious activities of Afro-Cuban origin. For Lachatar it was important to understand the processes through which divinities of African origin associated with Catholic saints came to be called saints and those who operated with their forces, effects, and beliefs, 35. At the end of his short stay as Latin American scholar in the United States in 1948 under the Department of State Travel Program, Ortiz had ambiguous feelings, mingled with harsh criticism, regarding Pan-American cooperation. See the letter Fernando Ortiz sent to the cultural attach of the American Embassy, June 13, 1949, Biblioteca Nacional Jos Mart (hereafter BNJM) in Havana, Coleccin Fernando Ortiz. Even before this visit Ortiz had very close relationships with U.S. institutions, agencies, and state representatives who traveled to Cuba. 36. Letter, Ortiz to J. Le Riverend, November 11 1 945, BNJM. 37. Posthumously published together as Las creencias religiosas de los afro-cubanos y la falsa aplicacin del trmino brujera, in Lachat a r 1 992. See also Gutirrez 2002.
240 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA santeros In fact, Lachatar was one of the first authors to call attention to the specific dimension and location of this style of syncretism from which the figure of santero was derived. 38 Although related to Ortiz through his collaboration as co-founder of the journal, Lachatar saw the first formula tions of Ortiz from a critical and reserved perspective. Despite this criticism, judging from the correspondence which the two maintained between 1 939 and 1 949, Lachatar and Ortiz remained on friendly terms. Each, however, held a different position, at least apparently sustained through mutual recognition of their diverse, and in some ways com plementary, authorities. Lachatar recognized the authority of Ortiz in the field, portraying himself as a follower, and Ortiz, on his part, exalted the importance of the writings and origins of Lachatar. Ortiz received Lachatars first book Oh, mo yemany! ( 1 938, see Lachatar 1 992) as a literary oeuvre. Despite deficiencies and insufficient information, argued Ortiz, the collection of legends and their publication in Cuba constituted an important contribution to Afro-Cuban studies. In the prologue, Ortiz recog nizes the importance of an untrained effort, compared to those already made by Lydia Cabrera and Alejo Carpentier in Cuba. The author, points out Ortiz ( 1 992:ix), is the descendant of a Black-White family ( es herdero de abolengos negriblancos ). Although Ortiz had highlighted the French and Haitian influ ence in Lachatarss Castellanized name originally Lachataignerais this very particular way of introducing the author and emphasizing aspects of his writings would follow Lachatar in other situations. Finally, although we have insufficient information on Lachatars partici pation in the Sociedad de Estudios Afro-Cubanos this experience and politi cal involvement redirected him to an interest that would absorb his attention during the 1 940s. Political problems were credited as causes of Lachatars departure from Cuba to New York in 1 939. However, we could add to these his interest in studying anthropology and pursuing other interpretations of the treatment of narratives on the practices of santeros After his attempts to follow a professional career in anthropology in the United States, he was engaged in war efforts, acting as a World War II volunteer and serving in medical units in South Carolina and Africa in 1 9431 944. Subsequently Lachatar worked as a laboratory technician in New York, studied photography, and joined leftist and cultural activities through the Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions in New York. By the time of his tragic death he was preparing a photographic exhibition on Puerto Ricans. 39 A close look at Lachatars writings produced 38. Ortiz replied in Brujos o santeros, ( 1 939:87) arguing in favor of pioneering his work, since after Nina Rodrigues he was the first to launch himself in a direct observation. 39. Lachatar was arrested and spent several months in prison in 1934. See Instituto de Literatura 1 980:482. As Diana Lachatar noted, according to my mother, the autho rities searched his room and found what they claimed was subversive literature (that is,
241 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION in his first years in New York permits us to highlight divergences in the repre sentation of the presence of the Afro-Cuban population created by other Cuban authors of his generation, and also recognize how his understanding of Santeria as a metaphor of nationhood changed along with his own experiences as a traveler in several New York neighborhoods. FROM LOS JA RDINES BOTNICOS DE HA RLEMBy early 1 940, at the same time that Lachatar introduced himself to Melville Herskovits, highlighting his ethnographic experiences in Cuba, Ortiz recog nized his former colleague and emphasized his affiliation with the Society of Afro-Cuban Studies in a letter of recommendation sent to his North American colleagues. Reaffirming the position of authority of Ortiz and his training in the tradition of studies which he had introduced, Lachatar called attention to the ethnic origins of Afro-Cuban practices and their consequent process of amalgamation in Cuba as complementary areas of pursuit in this research. These two subjects constituted the basis of what appears to be the core of his writings at the time: the study of the nature of the combination of Catholic and African beliefs ( creencias ) in Cuba. In a twenty-four-page manuscript attribut e d to Rmulo Lachatar included among the papers of Fernando Ortiz at the Instituto de Literatura y Lingstica, his ideas appear in the form of a plan of study. Entitled Some Suggestions on the Study of Afro-Cubans, the text analyzes aspects of the Black presence in Cuban culture ... for the study of our ethnology, and reaffirmed the need to consider what Lachatar called the amalgamation: we could draw the following conclusion. Each African group that manifests itself in Cuba, studied specifically, expresses the sum total of all of the beliefs brought together in a single group, where individual definitive traces mani fest themselves that allow for identification. Thus within African beliefs, originating in Cuba, there has also been a process of amalgamation. 40 This preoccupation with the aspects of combination, transformation, and reinterpretation, beyond repeated allusions throughout Lachatars limited correspondence, would show up in his other writings. This suggests the dif ferences that influenced the vision of Cuban intellectuals on what they saw as against the Machado regime). Diana Lachatar, Chronologia de la vida de Rmulo Lachatar y Crombet, manuscript. See also Barreal 1 992 and Guilln 1 962. 40. [Rmulo Lachatar], Algunas sugerencias acerca de los estudios de los afro-cuba nos, Carpeta 245 A, Coleccin Fernando Ortiz, Instituto de Literatura y Lingustica, Academia de Ciencias de Cuba (hereafter CFO/ILL) in Havana.
242 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA part of Cuban culture and elements that Herskovits and his students inter preted as representing African survivals in the New World. Lachatar gave to the idea of amalgamation a unique meaning. On the one hand, this meant an emphasis on the nation, and on the other, a re-elaboration of con structions of culture and race.4 1 Rather than reproducing what David Scott ( 1 99 1 :263) termed the verificationist perspective and its preoccupation with the African origins of cultures and populations descended from slaves in the Americas, Lachatar ( 1 992b: 1 94) appeared to be more focused on studying the dialogues produced by these various sectors in Cuba. As a metaphor that seems derived from the field of chemistry, amalgamation consisted in the production of a new substance in which the original elements that composed it were no longer visible or recognizable. Different from the culinary metaphor used by Ortiz in which Cuban culture and nation were compared to an ajiaco a Cuban dish that preserves the different ingredients and their time of cooking, amalgamation laid more emphasis on the formation of nation as a new, united political and cultural entity regardless of its cultural past. 42 Letters exchanged between Melville Herskovits and Fernando Ortiz suggest that upon his arrival in New York, Lachatar began a process of reevaluation of his earlier writings as well as the methods used in his research on santeros including impressions of his own procedures for col lecting material. By sending what was probably the manuscript of Manual de Santeria he requested specific advice:In 1 937 I wrote a book of tales entitled Oh mio Yemany! based on myths and legends I collected among the so-called santeros in La Habana and Santiago de Cuba. The book suffered from a weak elaboration of the tales, reduced to mythological aspects ... I have lived among santeros for approximately three years ... and I know many of their superstitions and magical practices ... the aim of this letter is to request suggestions and help ... because I recognize your experience in these studies, which would help me in my work. 43 Although recognizing the limitations of his knowledge both on Yoruba influ ences in Cuba and Africa, Herskovits actually replied with comments, sug gesting other authorities on such subjects such as Fernando Ortiz. He also enclosed an extensive review of Lachatars manuscript written by his student William Bascom, who highlighted the main problems found in his reading. For Bascom, Lachatars manuscript lacked appropriate method ology, as well as information about places, informants, and bibliographical 4 1 See also Wirtz 2004 and Palmi 2002. 42. For an exploration of the idea of ajiaco by Fernando Ortiz, see Palmi 1 998. 43. Rmulo Lacahataer, New York, September 11 1 940, NWUA/MHP. Oh mio yema ny! is dedicated to Panchita Crdenas, humilde yalocha de la villa de Regla (humble yalocha from the village of Regla).
243 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION references. There were great variations in the rituals and names of deities in Havana and Santiago, which weakened any attempt to compare these sources to information about the Yoruba in Africa. Also, the data concern ing what the author alleged to be elements of Yoruba culture and religion in Cuba had no equivalent in Bascoms own material on West Africa. The major problem seemed to consist of differentiating what was collected through Lachatars fieldwork in Cuba from information gathered from literature about the Yoruba in Africa. Bascom considered Lachatars work interest ing as an exploration of Cuban culture, but lacking as a study of accultura tion, which Bascom thought should be undertaken by someone more familiar with Yoruba culture. Finally, his conclusions were close to other intellectu als impressions of Lachatars writings during the authors attempts to obtain professional advice and financial support for his research in the United States: he needed training in method and bibliography. 44 His national view on African aspects of Cuban culture was interpreted both as a result of a lack of professional training and of his position in the field as a kind of native anthropologist (Narayan 1993). As Deborah Gordon has pointed out, in addition to conveying that the fieldworker had a distinctly anthropological experience, an ethnography must also display signs of scholarship that are connected to fieldwork but that do not necessarily signify a unique fieldwork experience. These textual features signify professionalism or the acquisition of academic prestige (Gordon 1 990: 1 47). Bascoms comments brought Lachatars recognition and acceptance: I accept your [his] criticism with no reserve ... it will serve to rectify, ordain, and preserve my work in a more concrete way. But Lachatar also added that while considering it important, he differed with other interpretations of Afro-Cuban religions. Instead, he preferred to set the discussion based on my own experiences. 45 Lachatar believed that the interaction between 44. Melville Herskovits, Evanston, February 22, 1 94 1 Box 1 7, NWUA/MHP. 45. Melville Herskovits, Evanston, January 9, 1941, enclosed: Report by William R. Bascom; R. Lachatar, New York, January 26, 1941 (original in Spanish), NWUA/ MHP, courtesy of Diana Lachatar. Letters of recommendation from Fernando Ortiz to Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, Havana, 2/ 1 5/ 1 94 1 Columbia University Archives, cour tesy of Diana Lachatar. Ortiz also encouraged Rmulo to study our things ... impor tant to the knowledge of Cuba (Fernando Ortiz, Havana, 2/15/41, Diana Lachatar Collection, courtesy of Diana Lachatar). Oddly enough, almost at the same time that Lachatar made these comments on the work of Ortiz, Ortiz himself recommended the young Cuban, Dr. Rmulo Lachatar to Franz Boas, Melville Herskovits, and Ruth Benedict, offering himself as a referee in case Lachatar wished apply for a Guggenheim Fellowship. Lachat a r actually applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship in the same year. The Foundation received from Herskovits positive recommendations regar ding Lachatars work. Melville Herskovits, Evanston, April 25, 1941, Box 8, Folder 17, NWUA/MHP. In the same year, after contact with Ruth Benedict, Lachatar also
244 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA populations of diverse origins, which made up Cuban culture, represented a poetic language of integration and had little to do with the unique aspects of the different African traditions that existed in Cuba. 46 In a way, Lachatar praised the uniqueness of his own involvement, comparing his encounters with santeros and practitioners, whom he referred to in expressions such as our friends, not as fieldwork but experience. 47 But Lachatars posi tion combined a double, sometimes ambiguous, perspective in references to his relations with his friends/informants. In the same letter sent to Ortiz on August 1 940 from New York, he describes his activities in the library where, trying to trace the genealogical tree of my ancestors he felt the distance that kept him far from his Cuban others: I need to return there and love another Black woman so that she gives me details; but I cant do that now; I would like you to help me in this regard, what I want now is to obtain information on the Black aigos could you recommend a publication where I could find what I need, more specifi cally the existence of this secret society and its origins, what I know of these people is very vague and confusing, I never got involved with these people, I was afraid of them, and now I regret it. 48 This ambiguity also shows up in the relationship between Lachatar and Ortiz. As I mentioned, from the time that Lachatar left Cuba, the two corresponded regularly. Lachatar was explicit in his reference to Ortiz as the specialist on Afro-Cuban studies, and treated him with deference. Although he expanded and reoriented his research interests in the United States, Lachatar insisted on staying in contact with Ortiz and other Cuban intellectuals, recognizing in this way the specificities of the national ques tion. At the end of 1 942 Lachatar sent a brief description of his research plan, entitled A Study of Religious Beliefs among Afro-Antillanos (West Indians) in Harlem, New York City. In contrast to his former studies of Cuba, Lachatar focused his attention on the city and population with which he had been living since his arrival in the United States. This time, the description of the Spanish-speaking community of Harlem led him to a very skeptical view of the possibility that a population with diverse ethnic and national origins could pass through the experience of amalgamation he had emphasized in his works on Cuba. Without explicitly stating that racism decided to apply to the Rosenwald Fund Fellowship (NWUA/MHP, courtesy of Diana Lachatar). 46. For literary aspects of the Oh mio yemany! see Snchez 1 987. 47. For a comparison with the fieldwork experiences of Lydia Cabrera and her under standings about the relationships between ethnographer and practitioners, see Dianteill & Swearingen 2002 and Rodriguez-Mangual 2004. 48. Romulo Lachatar, letter to Fernando Ortiz, August 26, 1 940, FOC/BNJM.
245 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION encompassed all causes that kept the community insulated in an enclave between the north end of Central Park to 1 25th and from Morningside Park to the East River, Lachatar suggested that the segregated environment promoted isolation. He aimed to focus on both the Negro and Spanish cul tural heritage of Antillanos, namely immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Once more, religious practices appeared to be a communal arena in which these national and ethnic communities could be perceived as a group. Moreover they provided the basis for a fundamental understanding which would allow for the intervention of social planning. The future of the Hispanos in Harlem will depend in great measure upon the understanding that is available of their beliefs and practices. At pres ent these are practically unknown outside the group. The proposed study will be a basic contribution to any social planning effort aimed at alleviat ing the problems of this community ... Publication of my detailed studies would not be immediately advisable on account of possible repercussions upon the community studied. Articles setting forth the conclusions could be easily published in journals interested in ethnic problems, and mim eographed reports with greater detail could be furnished to organizations active or interested in Negro problems. 49 What struck some North American scholars most about Lachatars proje c t was not his actual ideas. His unique proposal attracted attention mainly because of his color, which Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, Ortiz, and Herskovits all thought made him particularly well suited to carry out field work on the West Indian population in New York. Benedict mentioned that as a Cuban Negro Lachatar would have access to his research subjects to an unusual degree, while Boas was subtler: he understands his problem well and he knows how to deal with people whom he wants to investigate. Ortizs support was also directly related to Lachatars identity, and he emphasized the importance of the fellowship to Cuban development in general: Because he is de color and has spent his adolescence among the descendants of slaves and cult practitioners ... he is well suited ... he is a young, colored Cuban without resources who has had the opportunity to study at our university. A fellowship ... would be a strong acquisition for the culture, and would enable him to join definitively the group of Cuban ethnographers. 50 49. Rmulo Lachatar, A Study of Religious Beliefs among Afro-Antillanos (West Indians) in Harlem, New York, enclosed in Julius Rosenwald Fund Application, [ 1 94 1 ], Julius Rosenwald Collection, Special Collection/Fisk University, courtesy of Diana Lachatar. 50. Ruth Benedict, New York, January 31, 1942; Franz Boas, New York, 2/5/42; and Fernando Ortiz, Havana, February 18, 1942, Julius Rosenwald Collection, Special Collection/Fisk University, courtesy of Diana Lachatar.
246 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA Although, according to Diana Lachatar, there is no evidence that Lachatar had continued to pursue an academic career after 1 943, he trans formed part of his reflections on the West Indian population in Harlem into essays in which his experiences as a political activist in Cuba and, mainly, among the Puerto Rican population in Harlem merged. In 1 942 Lachatar published two articles in New York journals related to his application to the Rosenwald Fund. In Los Jardines Botnicos de Harlem (Lachat a r 1992d) he presented an alternative and comparative view on Cuba outside national borders. Outlining aspects of the daily life in el barrio latino he paid attention to the boticas or botanical garden a kind of store owned by Antillanos where herbal, medicinal, and religious products were sold. There, and contrary to the legally permitted North American drugstores, dynamic mixtures took place. The pharmacist acted as a faith healer, treat ing all kinds of physical and spiritual illnesses. But these stores or tiendas also traded manufactured commodities from the Antilles which were rarely found and were even prohibited in the United States. The pharmacist not only knew their properties, but also offered advice on how to obtain better results from some drugs by mixing them as an alchemist (Lachat a r 1 992d:393, 395). Lachatar, as a trained pharmacist and Santeria connois seur referred metaphorically to the Antilles and the Caribbean through the ethnographic depiction of the boticas as a territory of magic encounters and potential combinations. Although Lachatar had briefly depicted the social conditions that made the boticas available and popular among the Antillean immigrants, racial tension between the African-American population and Hispanics in New York is suggested as a problem that highlighted ethnic identities and religious practices. Although the discrimination that Hispanic and black North Americans experienced placed them in similar social posi tions, cultural features as well as the particular evolution of the Latino com munity in New York would produce distinct forms of isolation.5 1 But it is by contrasting these images with those in another essay, Algunos aspectos del problema negro en Cub a (Some aspects of Negro problem in Cuba, Lachat a r 1 992c) that we can perceive his impressions of Negro problems in the racial situation of both countries. From New York, the Cuban scenario concerning race seemed to leave him still more confused. Although he stated his discordance with some branches of the Communist Party which, by the late 1 930s, took the racial tension of the Southern United States as a model for Cuba, he noticed that since his departure, things had changed: it is impossible to speak about a color line in the same terms as in the U.S. 52 But 5 1 Significantly, a Communist Party report on Harlem communities and population echoes this characterization. See, for instance Communist Party of the United States of America, A Political Manual for Harlem (New York City: The Division, 1939); micro film, Tamiment Library, New York University. 52. In The Negro Quarterly 1 (2): 1 45-54, 396-404, 397 (reprint Lachatar 1 992c).
247 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION discrimination seemed to persist even among nonwhite Cubans. Nationalist appeals were applied to a profoundly unequal society. The ideals of the gen eration of Mart and the post-Independence War had failed in recent violent events marked by racial antagonism. In some regions, such as Santiago de Cuba and Guantnamo, racial inequalities reinforced antiblack immigra tion and divisions between Mulattos and Blacks. The strengthening of social conditions that marginalized Blacks throughout the island had created the threefold structure of Cuban society and the division between Blacks, Mulattos, and Whites. Lachatar argued that antiblack feelings allowed many Mulattos to adopt passing strategies to overcome discrimination. Even among the santeros and their use of Catholic and African religious ele ments, Lachatar perceived differences crossing racial and color lines. The practice of santeros, as well as their relationship with the elites and the state varied between cooptation and political uses of various tendencies. 53 While Lachatar suggested the impropriety of adopting in Cuba sociologi cal models used to interpret race relations in the United States, at the same time, he seemed to agree that the color line had benefited different struggles and movements to confront political tyrannies. On the one hand the notion is that competition for resources would worsen racial antagonisms, and on the other, the idea that these conditions provided the basis for a racial conscience aimed at obtaining political and economic rights. Thus, the recognition of the existence of a racial problem in Cuba had to pass through a profound discussion of the models adopted to explain and depict society. It is impossible to speak of a color line in Cuba in the same way that it is approached in the United States; since there is no absolute compari son of these unique conditions, at least with what exists in Puerto Rico. However, there are forms of segregation in all of the important centers of Black population where, due to economic circumstances, Blacks cannot compete with Whites. The color line is less effective in urban areas, as in the case of the so-called Black belt of the Oriente province where, due to the fact that the Black population is large and economic resources more abundant, competition with Whites is more favorable. This, however, does not prevent racial prejudice, but simply leads to specific manifestations. (Lachat a r 1 942:39) According to Lachatar, this specificity is due to the reaction of black groups to constant discrimination in large urban areas, such as Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantnamo. Nevertheless, in situations in which the racial balance did not result in a struggle for resources and rights, a process of dislocation and conflicts of a nonracial nature would take place. Lachatar emphasizes 53. Wirtz (2004:4 1 2) presents an interesting interpretation on the reading of Lachatar for the context of Santiago de Cuba.
248 OLV I A M.G. CUN HA this interpretation in his reading of the main events in Cuban political life duri n g the 1 930s. In a semi-journalistic account that included remembrances of militancy in the Communist Party, Lachatar concluded his analysis with an interpretation of the racial problem of Cuba, relegating it exclusively to the political sphere. Racial integration appeared in the processes of political struggle for democratic rights. Although the question only appeared in the conclusion of his text, for Lachatar the political sphere was the ideal place for the reconfiguration of economic and unequal forces. CONC L U S ION In contrast to Arthur Ramos, Lachatars intellectual production was mod est. His treatment of racial issues, reinterpreted from the perspective of his North American experience, had only begun when his intellectual career ended with his death in 1 95 1 The experiences of Ramos and Lachatar in the United States, however, are examples of how the confluence of discourse on race and nation, as seen from the perspective of a different cultural expe rience, subvert any attempt to deal with these categories in an isolated way. While apparently focusing on issues specific to the field of Afro-American studies, both scholars attempted to describe their own nations from outside their political and geographic boundaries and look for definition in contrast. Curiously, the approach chosen by both, in spite of their differing political affiliations and intellectual relationships, appears to fall into the same model. Even if it is impossible to understand the ways in which each interpreted the relation between nation and race in Brazil and in Cuba as having been the result of a change in perspective caused, above all because before traveling their writings were directed toward other themes, the trip and the comparative perspective present in the writings of each after leaving their countries cannot be overlooked. Still, the so-called same model cannot be summarized in a narrative style through which the description by comparison would have the purpose of emphasizing or highlighting difference in a context or situation. While important and this question should be observed in the texts produced by contemporary North American and Latin American travelers who crossed the borders of their countries seeking to understand the history and life of Afro-American populations in the Americas a comparison, seen only as a narrative style, obscures the connections and political projects which these authors and members of their intellectual circles had embraced. By writing about las boticas of Harlem, Lachatar envisioned other expressions of religious and cultural affinities among Latin American and Antillean immigrants, where ethnic ties were not based primarily upon national allegiances. Catholic and Afro-Cuban religious practices formed new grounds for ethnic solidarity, and informed, at same time, other mean
249 TR AV E L, ET H NOGR A P HY, A ND NA TION ings of national identity outside geopolitical borders. Cuban immigrant experienc e s in a traditionally African-American neighborhood of New York inspired Lachatar to highlight similarities in the basis for national forma tion in the United States and Cuba: the racialized representation of the nation and the national configuration of race. The same seemed to occur in Arthur Ramoss attempts at drawing similarities between the Southern AfricanAmerican population in Louisiana through his experience as a lecturer on culture and race relations at a segregated university in Baton Rouge. For Ramos, not only the landscape of the Mississippi, but also its human charac ters, remind e d him of the Parahyba River, which crosscut the poor, underde veloped, and traditionally former slave plantation area of southeast Brazil. In contrast to the U.S. South however, in Brazil the nation had transformed what race had produced through history. In his cartography, produced in his chronicles written in Baton Rouge, this process appears as a dehistoricized and innate tendency shared by all Brazilians regardless of racial origin. In a way, their portrait and ethnographic project about Antillean immigrants in Harlem and Southern African-Americans in Baton Rouge can be seen as being close to Mrio de Andrades antigeography metaphor. 54 Travels and trav elers seem to cross more than national boundaries and pursue methodological tools to help them imagine their local and national subjects. As travelers they have to deal, at the same time, with images and mirrors which reflect utopian designs. While both shared the belief that there would be historical and cul tural similarities to be identified among these populations in different parts of the Americas, at the same time they also seemed to agree that they should be observed and that they would only be understood within the context of place. In this way, instead of a nation without borders and territories, they imagined the nation and its images that were produced from them as results of mediation, theoretical and political instruments that turned a specific context observable and understandable. With this type of operation, Ramos imagined the sounds and smells of Mississippi and Lachatar, in his own way, portrayed a utopian Caribbean in the streets of Harlem. Still, it is important to recognize the trip and resulting narratives as a central element in the construction of a form of authorized knowledge of what is being seen through what was left behind. This because, in spite of the comparison being on the agenda of the various ways of conceiving anthropological knowledge since the late nineteenth century, we have invested little in understanding their influence on theory. In some ways, the analysis of this type of travel, in which it is impos sible to distinguish between tourist, ethnographer, and the participant in a cultural exchange between states and institutions, and the complex web of intellectual and political issues involved, suggests a new perspective on the 54. In a way this resembles a wider discussion proposed by Coronil (1995, 1996) and what he has termed non-imperial cartography.
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MIGUE L A CENTENOT HE E VER -S TUDIED I SLE Cuba Transnational DA MI N J. FERN NDE Z (ed.). Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. xvii + 2 1 6 pp. (Cloth US$ 65.00) Cubas Aborted Reform: Socioeconomic Effects, International Comparisons, and Transition Policies CA RME L O ME SALA GO & JORGE F P RE ZL PE Z. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. xx + 223 pp. (Cloth US$ 59.95) Cuba, the United States, and the Post-Cold War World: The International Dimensions of the Washington-Havana Relationship MORRIS MORLEY & CH RI S MCGI LL ION (eds.). Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. xi + 286 pp. (Cloth US$ 65.00) There are perhaps few countries other than France for which the ratio of aca demic word per population is higher than Cuba. Notwithstanding its symbolic significance over the past fifty years, it is important to remember that we are talking of a small island of something over ten million souls exporting sand and sugar. Even the Cuban diaspora has benefited from this arguably unde served notoriety, and hardly a week goes by without yet another exile memoir. Over the past two weeks (this is being written in mid-August 2006), the atten tion meter once again jumped as Fidels illness and the temporary (?) transfer of power was documented by the global media. Given all this attention, new books on Cuba face a daunting challenge: to say something new about a place that has been much studied, but which, in many ways, has remained the same for the past half century. Is there something we dont yet know? The three books in question make a valiant attempt to give us a fresh look at contemporary Cuba and sometimes succeed in doing so. Each in its own way provides a new perspective on the Cuban phenomenon broadly understood and each certainly deserves attention by interested scholars. Yet they also reveal the limits on our possible scholarly analysis of what remains a closed society, both at home and in exile. What makes Cuba tick, whether
New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) 260 in Havana or Miami, remains a mystery. As the Revolution comes to its next or perhaps even last stage, the key to its future remains critical, but elusive. Cuba Transnational is a frustrating book. On the one hand, the whole is actually larger than the sum of its parts, offering a new and distinctive take on Cuban culture. On the other hand, many of the parts are not very good and may actually detract from the possible impact of the book. The overall message of the volume is that Cuban culture is a perfect example of transnationalism. This concept, like much having to do with globalization, remains simultaneously interesting but obvious, recognizable but diffuse. As I understand it, it refers to the way local cultures or discourses are connected to and transform each other via global connections. It is now impossible to speak of the culture of place X without taking into account how this both was transformed by and is transforming broader global customs. In societies with concentrated diasporas that have access to media (a selective sample, to be sure, and one whose inclusion and exclusion deserves study) this creates a flow between home and destination societies that defines new ways of being national or local. In the case of the Cuban global society, music and film in Havana cannot be understood without reference to the flow of U.S. media. The exile itself not only feeds off Cuban culture coming from the island, but also popular reactions to it. So for example, it is not just Los Van-Van or Buena Vista that shapes Miami music, but it is the often negative reaction to global approba tion of these that helps define the exiles view of self. This is a critical point. Whether we are speaking of trends in art or succes sion crises, no part of Cuba broadly understood can be analyzed without at least reference to its various components. Within Latin America, the Cuban experience of the past fifty years was in the vanguard to the transnational links between New York and the Dominican Republic, between las marras of Salvador and South Central Los Angeles. The links between exiles and home countries are helping to define the twenty-first-century version of the Americas. Cuba Transnational makes an important contribution by defining how these links make up Cubanidad. But with few exceptions, the individual chapters fail to go beyond this general insight into a deeper understanding of specific instances. Jorge Duanys introductory chapter on the past fifty years of Caribbean migration does an excellent job of setting the stage and is the volumes most successful essay. Anyone who has looked for a good concise summary of the various waves of migration and the subsequent developments of new national identities will welcome its publication. I am not convinced, however, by Duanys argument against Cuban exceptionalism Cubans enjoy a privileged media image and access to power in the United States unimagina ble to Dominicans or Puerto Ricans. Sara Blues chapter on remittances uses a survey of Havana residents to show how the flows of money have created
261 RE V IE W ARTIC L E S a transnational community. Despite the lack of detail on methodology, this is an interesting, useful contribution. I only wish that Blue had explored further how the dependency on exiles has helped redefine Cuban pride in the accom plishments of the Revolution. Susan Thomas does an excellent job beginning to trace some of the links between Cuban music and global trends and also includes the brilliant characterization of Luis Barbera as a Cuban version of Barry White (p. 11 7). Alan West-Durns more focused take on Cuban rap shows how race has been depoliticized during most of the Revolution, but how this has been changing over the past decade. The rest of the chapters delve much deeper into the pretensions of much of academic cultural theory. For example, Lzaro Limas account of the locas al rescate could have provided an excellent entry into some of the defining characteristics of Cubanidad. The mocking absurdity of the locas is a wonderful counterpoint to the often pompous pronouncements of both Fidel and Miami AM radio. But did he really need to bring up Foucault in the second sentence or, even worse, use the term emotive sexile? I looked forward to Denise Blums analysis of the Nieman Marxisation of Che, but again found the Baudrillardian analysis less than useful. Cubas Aborted Reform suffers from the opposite set of problems. Undertheorized and lacking a central argument, it provides a wealth of detail on the evolution of the islands economy over the past decades, but somehow fails to deliver a powerful defining statement. Yet, the authors are the recog nized experts on the Cuban economy and there is no doubt that this volume should serve as the definitive record of the status of Cubas aborted reform through 2005. The success and challenges of the book are clear in the first chapter, which combines an excellent periodization of economic policy on the island with an overly detailed categorization that might leave even the most atten tive readers confused. It does serve as the foundation of the overall argument of the book: Cuba has never followed a consistent economic model and this, perhaps more than errors in any particular policy, has seriously hampered the islands development. The second chapter provides an in-depth view of the practically apocalyp tic collapse of the Cuban economy in the 1 990s. Even for a reader relatively familiar with the data, the picture of hardship and decline is astounding. Particularly worrisome is the fact that despite the changes of the mid 1990s (often contradicted a few years later), the economy in 2005 was nowhere near recuperating the position it enjoyed in 1989. The consequences for the delivery of services and for social justice on the island have been dramatic. Many of the accomplishments of the Revolution appear to be withering away. Long-term crises in sectors such as housing have worsened while even the health and education successes are hitting fiscal and infrastructural
New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) 262 brick walls. The analysis of income inequality is unforgiving. To be White in Havana is still to enjoy a structurally privileged position. Perhaps the most damning chapters in the book compare Cuba to the Costa Rica and Chile of equivalent periods. They measure the various accomplishments while taking into account the status of the respective soci eties before policy changes. While such exercises are fraught with dangers of simplification and over-quantification, it is hard to disagree with the authors conclusion that the Cuban Revolution was not the ideal path. The book fin ishes with a discussion of what Cuba needs to do to improve its economic performance. Largely based on the work of Cuban economists (including those who were part of the purged Institute of the Americas), this makes for sobering reading. One does not need to read very far between the lines to see that what Cuba needs is radical reform much more than even the changes in the mid1 990s. Where the book falls short is the authors failure to take the next step to assess the possible ways Cuba could undertake these changes. For two schol ars who know Cuba so well not to articulate an analysis of the political future of the island is surprising and disappointing. My conclusion from reading the book is that Cuba is at a dead end and that without political transformation, economic policy is at best a patina. Mesa-Lago and Prez-Lpez could use fully have provided a systemic analysis of these possible transformations. The most disappointing of the three books under review is Cuba, the United States, and the Post-Cold War World. The first two sentences of the foreword announce that The book will undoubtedly prove controversial. Its thesis that the fate of the United States as a lone cowboy is misguided and counterproductive is illustrated, and illustrated well, in its relationship with revolutionary Cuba. Certainly, very few people on either side of the political spectrum (outside of some parts of Miami and Capitol Hill) would find this statement controversial. Few support the logic of U.S. policy toward Cuba and many would also see it as a worrisome precedent for the type of diplomacy practiced by the Bush administration. So what is new about this book? I am afraid not much. William LeoGrandes chapter does provide a succinct and nuanced historical over view of U.S.-Cuban relations through Guantnamo. This will be very useful as a course reading or for those new to the catastrophe of the U.S. policy toward Cuba, but it does not delve deeply into the reasons for that policy. The following chapters explore Cuban relations with a variety of other global players and analyze how these have interacted with U.S.-Cuban rela tions. While of some interest and clearly based on detailed research, these chapters are ultimately unsatisfactory. In the end, Cuba is simply not a suf ficiently important international player to merit this much attention. It is pre cisely because of Cubas inherent marginality that U.S. policy toward it is so truly absurd. The authors, ostensibly unaware of this, are left with noting
263 RE V IE W ARTIC L E S the contradictions between U.S. policy and American national interests and long-standing international commitments. What is needed is a much more nuanced account that not only castigates the United States, but also notes how Cuba has used its continuing struggle with imperialismo yanqui to sustain itself politically. We also need a scholarly analysis of the motivations for Cuban foreign policy, which largely remains a black box. Most importantly, we need to understand better how the rela tions between the two countries have helped shape their domestic politics. The causal trail is clear in one direction e.g., the Miami voting bloc helps explain U.S. policy. But we understand less how the mutual obsession has also driven domestic politics and produced unexpected consequences. The message from these books is a depressing one. Everywhere we see bad intentions, silly misunderstandings, and mediocre results. After reading the three of them I could not help but think of the euphoria and expectations of 1 959 and how far down the slope the Revolution has fallen.MIGUE L A CENTENO Institute for International and Regional Studies Princeton University Princeton NJ 08544, U.S.A.
JE A N STUBB SC UBA T HROUGH A N EW L ENS The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered SAMUEL FARBER. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. x + 212 pp. (Paper US$ 1 9.95) Cuba: A New History RIC HARD GOTT New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. xii + 384 pp. (Paper US$ 1 7.00) Havana: The Making of Cuban Culture. ANTONI KAPCIA Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2005. xx + 236 pp. (Paper US$ 24.95) Richard Gott, Antoni Kapcia, and Samuel Farber each approach Cuba through a new lens. Gott does so by providing a broad-sweep history of Cuba, which is epic in scope, attaches importance to social as much as politi cal and economic history, and blends scholarship with flair. Kapcia homes in on Havana as the locus for Cuban culture, whereby cultural history becomes the trope for exploring not only the city but also Cuban national identity. Farber revisits his own and others interpretations of the origins of the Cuban Revolution. All three are driven by an interest in the Revolution, and yet are drawn to history Gott from journalism, Kapcia from literature, and Farber from political science. Gott and Kapcia, both British-based, cover five centuries of history since the Spanish conquest, though their strengths lie in the more contemporary period. This is evidenced in the uneven balance of their treat ment. Gott devotes less than one-quarter of his book to the pre1 868 period, and fully half to the post1 953 years. In Kapcias book, only one of the chap ters is pre-twentieth century, and half is on the post1 959 revolutionary years. Farber Cuban-born, U.S.-based covers a much more limited time frame, 1 8681 96 1 weaving together a preand immediate postrevolutionary analy sis. Strikingly, none cites the others work. Farbers Origins might be viewed as an update of his 1 976 book, Revolution and Reaction in Cuba, 1933-1960 in light of scholarship of the last thirty
New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) 266 years. What was the class character of the Cuban Revolution and what was the role of the Soviet and Cuban Communists? These are questions that have dogged Farber, who grew up in Cuba and after leaving became one of the Revolutions critics from a revolutionary socialist stance. He sets out to solve the puzzle of why the Cuban Revolution traversed a path from multiclass antidictatorial political movement to socialist revolution in April 1 96 1 He argues that it is timely to re-examine conflicting treatments to date. The inevitable passing of Fidel Castro from the scene is likely to open a substantial process of change in Cuban Communism as it is presently con stituted. That process in turn will foster a need for ideological legitimation and encourage a reexamination of Cuba in history, particularly the history of the revolution (p. 1 ). Those familiar with Cuban historiography will recog nize the validity of this claim, but may be less persuaded as to the influence of current trends of ideological change in the Castro regime and the rise of neoliberal economic thought and hard-right idealization of prerevolutionary Cuba within the Cuban-American community. Farber challenges commonly held left-wing views that U.S. policy pushed Cuba into the Soviet camp, with Soviet and Cuban reluctance. He argues the Soviet Union pursued a logic of state interests and deems the leftist dichotomy between reform and revolution inappropriate. He homes in on unresolved issues and problems in the rapid shift to communism, as he sees them, recognizing that he excludes other important issues, such as the histories of women and race relations. His book explores the origins of the Revolution through the narrower lens of primarily political, and to a lesser extent economic, history: prerevolution ary economic progress and stagnation in creating a political climate favorable to radical social revolution; Castros trajectory in the context of the Cuban populist tradition; U.S. policy toward Cuba and how it might have been differ ent; developments during the 1 950s inside Cuba, from above and below; and the role of Soviet and Cuban Communists in the revolutionary process. Farbers argument is fivefold. (1) In the 1950s Cuban political economy was defined by uneven development, and Batistas regime had little social base; (2) Castros group was a declassed populist movement in the Latin American caudillismo tradition, an active agent with its own aims and form of rule before choosing the Soviet camp; (3) U.S. policy emanated from its hemispheric imperial positioning and the cold war, and was consistent with its broader Latin America policy; (4) the Soviet Union pursued its own impe rial interests from the early days of the revolutionary regime, promoted as a model by Cubas Popular Socialist Party (communist); (5) Cubas working class lacked the independence to fight for its interests, so that workers were neither the social force making revolution nor its prime beneficiaries. The crux of Farbers argument is that the structure of Cubas economy and politics in the first half of the twentieth century made the island ripe
267 RE V IE W ARTIC L E S for radical social and economic change making revolution possible, but not inevitable and the Soviet Union saw an advantage in providing early assistance. Using recently declassified U.S. and Soviet documents, as well as biographical and narrative literature from Cuba, he mounts a convincing case in demonstrating that revolutionary leaders, while acting under serious constraints, pursued their own ideological visions. Little of this will strike scholars of Cuba as particularly new, but the analysis contains some insightful details. His characterization of Castro as a 1 950s populist caudillo ... detached from any significant institutional ties to Cubas principal social classes is one that suggests an affinity with Sovietstyle Communism (p. 67). Castro was able to manoeuvre adroitly, capital izing on historical circumstance, to manipulate and deceive his supporters, whereby the Cuban masses have remained the objects rather than the sub jects of history (p. 68), political radicalization notwithstanding. Gotts treatment is quite different. Best known for his journalism and early work on guerrilla warfare and Che Guevara, Gott regales us with an eminently readable narrative chonological history of Cuba. His thoroughly researched and annotated work of synthesis, written in quasi-journalistic, quasi-academic style, provides the historical and cultural context in which the 1 959 Revolution took shape and which, in his view, is what has allowed it to survive for so long. He depicts it as driven by national defiance rather than Marxism-Leninism, and portrays Castro as a disciple of Cubas nineteenthcentury founding father Jos Mart rather than Karl Marx. While celebrat ing the revolutionary gains in health and education, his focus is less on the domestic and more on the international, especially Cuba as a U.S. national security issue. The prologue testifies to Gotts long acquaintance with Cuba. He first trav eled there in October 1963, to witness the devastation caused by Hurricane Flora and the mass outpouring of grief at the funeral of popular musician Beny Mor. It was then that he met Che Guevara. Years later, in 1967, he was able to confirm to the world it was indeed Guevara who lay dead in the mountains of Bolivia. While motivated by political history, Gott pays much attention to the social make-up of Cuban society a welcome departure from most standard political histories. Hence, his introduction on the Cuban peo ple signals class, race, and ethnic divides in an often conflictive and violent past that underlie the present unity of revolution. The books chapters are arranged chronologically: 1511-1740, Spanish settlement, slaughter, slavery, and piracy; 1741-1868, Spanish empire chal lenged; 1868-1902, wars of independence and U.S. occupation; 1902-1952, the republican years; 1953-61, revolution in the making; 1961-1968, power consolidated; 1968-1985, the Soviet years; 1985-2003, Cuba out on a limb. From the nineteenth century on, his particular focus of interest is the inter twining of U.S. and Cuban politics. Significantly, his three appendices are
New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) 268 all extracts from key U.S. documents: the John Quincy Adams letter of 1 823 likening Cuba to an apple which, in falling to a ground disjointed from Spain and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union, which, by the same law of nature, cannot cast her off from her bosom (quoted on p. 326); the Platt Amendment of 1902 enabling the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs; and the 1 996 Helms-Burton Act seeking sanctions against the Castro government and outlining U.S. support for the transition to a democratically elected government. Gott writes that the 1 902 Platt Amendment enabled ... Cuban governments to summon American military assistance whenever they were faced with powerful internal opposition by workers or peasants, or simply by rival political factions. American soldiers often arrived to solve problems in Cuba that a genuinely independent govern ment would have been obliged to sort out on its own. The resentment cre ated was to explode in 1 933 and again in 1 959. (pp. 111-1 2) The year 1 96 1 saw the Literacy Campaign but also the U.S.-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs, followed by early Soviet overtures, the 1962 October Missile Crisis, and the heady years of exporting revolution to Latin America in the 1960s and Africa in the 1970s. Castros Revolution put Cuba on the map over a period of 40 years ... He engendered in the Cuban people an intangible but real sense of pride in their nation (p. 3 1 9). Gotts epilogue addresses the oft-asked question: What after Castro dies? Chaos or velvet revolution? Mass return migration from Miami? Island defi ance? U.S. occupation? Echoing revolutionary loyalist sentiment, he writes: Cuba has been the victim of three empires [Spanish, U.S., and Soviet] and has rejected them all, U.S. interest in Cuba long pre-dates the revolution and will not simply disappear with Castro. Nor will the Cuban desire to be free and independent (p. 324). In Gotts judgment, When [Castro] dies, there will be little change in Cuba. While few people have been looking, the change has already taken place (p. 325). Gott describes the Havana to which he arrived in 1 963 as a wealthy and prosperous capital (p. 1). This was to change quite dramatically in the fol lowing years, as Antoni Kapcia makes clear in Havana a sequel to his 2000 book, Cuba: Island of Dreams Havana differs in content and approach from the books by Gott and Farber on two counts. First, Kapcia sets out to posi tion Havana in Cuban history. Second, his prime locus of analysis is culture. Entering a cross-disciplinary world, he alerts us, is an academic minefield where unfamiliar theoretical traps may lurk. He begins by steering us through Havanas distinctive fusion of noises and confusion of images in the ambivalent relation between capital and interior, and the contemporary trauma of a reversed centripetal capital/interior relationship. Thus, chaos,
269 RE V IE W ARTIC L E S exaggerated by neglect since 1960, may be Havanas own signature (p. 4), and Havana post1 989 may be less Cubas capital than a social, cultural and political entity in its own right (p. 3). An apposite conceptual frame, which serves as title for the introduction, is The Havana Mosaic: Sweetness and Light (taken from Matthew Arnold). The sweetness of sugar, but also bitter-sweet reality, and the harsh light of the sun, contrasted with the gloom of badly lit streets by night, are taken as counterpoint for Cubas national identity and cultural identity, high and popular culture. In the conclusion, Kapcia returns to this imagery, envi sioning Havana as chiaroscuro light and shade. These themes recur throughout the books chronologically arranged chapters. The first covers the colonial period, from the 1550s-1760s presugar City in the Shadows to the sugar Boom City, running from the 1760s through independence from Spain, and including the U.S. occupa tion of 1898-1902. The second chapter, on the prerevolutionary republican period of 1902-1958, has three parts: A Nation without a Capital, and a Capital without a Nation (1902-1933), Havana as the Cultural Problem (1934-1958), and a case study of the weekly Bohemia The third chapter enters the post1 959 revolutionary period, charting the new marginalisation of Havana of 1959-1971 and the Grey City of the 1970s-1980s, up to the watershed 1989-1990 years, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and offers a second case study of Bohemia (in a later time frame) and one of the daily Granma Curiously, Kapcia applies the term Grey Years to the 1970s and 1 980s, though it is more commonly applied only to the first half of the 1 970s. The late 1970s and the 1980s produced a cultural effervescence quite dis tanced from any political orthodoxy, paving the way for greater opening in the crisis 1 990s, as a survival strategy. This is evidenced in the fourth chapter, on the post-1990 years, which depicts Havana as a new cultural space and ends with a case study of community cultural centres, or Casas de Cultura The treatment is in places off the mark. In Cubas long nineteenth century (1762-1902), the role of sugar in the rise of the city is arguably over-stated. Cubas sugar historian par excellence, Manuel Moreno Fraginals, cautioned that right to the end of the nineteenth century tobacco outplayed sugar in the city oligarchy stakes, a point substantiated by my own work. Havana in the 1 890s was the cigar city, dominated architecturally by palatial cigar factories, in which there was a thriving cultural tradition of reading. Kapcia embraces the essence of Havana, by the 1 880s, poised uncomfortably and disoriented between two Empires [Spain and North America] and three cultures ... a cautious emerging Cuban culture, which lacked any consensus ... on where and how Afro-Cuba might fit in (p. 58). Race is a perceptible undercurrent throughout, though at times accorded a primacy it arguably did not have. Historical evidence does not substantiate that the disappearance of radi calism in Havana [before 1920] indicated either a resigned pragmatism or
New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) 270 a general disillusion. Only Havanas black population dissented radically (p. 65). This is to ignore working-class radicalism (the 1 902 and 1 907 strikes brought the city to a standstill) and White liberal rebellion ( 1 906 and 1 9 1 7). The case studies provide an interesting angle, but are not unproblematic. While Bohemia was widely read, it was hardly a cultural gatekeeper, and Granma as the official party paper, was never much of a cultural contender beyond dissemination. Far more important revolutionary cultural markers were Carteles Gaceta Caimn Barbudo Revolucin y Cultura the more specialist Cine Cubano (for film), Tablas (for theater), and the evening daily Juventud Rebelde Kapcia is on track with the Casas de Cultura however: they continue to serve the dual function of broadening access to cultural forms as well as capturing new talent, much as the talleres literarios and instructores de arte did earlier in the revolutionary period. Such caveats aside, Kapcia has produced an ambitious study. Like Gotts, it is an admirable work of synthesis. Each broadens our understanding of the more narrowly political scope of Farbers book, whereby the political isola tionism of revolutionary Cuba has to be counterposed with social and cul tural cosmopolitanism, of Havana in particular. Ultimately, Gott and Kapcia serve to caution against a unidimensional view of a Cuba that has embraced peoples, cultures, and causes in a way that exposes the Wests current trend to introversion and the U.S. obsession with fashioning a Cuba in its own image.RE F ERENCEKA PCI A, ANTONI, 2000. Cuba: Island of Dreams. New York: Berg. JE A N STUBB S Caribbean Studies Centre London Metropolitan University London N7 8DB, U.K. < email@example.com k >
BOOK REVIEWS Romare Bearden: The Caribbean Dimension. SALLY PRICE & RICHARD PRICE. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. 189 pp. (Cloth U S $ 49.95) J. MICHAEL DA S H French Department New York University New York NY 10003, U.S .A. < firstname.lastname@example.org u > Andr Breton, en route to exile in North America in 1941, entitled his account of his stay in Martinique Martinique charmeuse de serpents The complex ity of Bretons relation to a tropical elsewhere as well as the visual repre sentation of the Caribbean is filtered through the painting by Le Douanier Rousseau that gives the book its title. Rousseau never visited Martinique or the Caribbean for that matter but for Breton such a journey was not nec essary. Since it was naturally surrealist, the Martiniquan heartland was a spiritual home for those in search of the nonrational. Thirty years later, we are told in this long overdue study of the Caribbean dimension of R omare Beardens paintings and collages, that the painter visited Martinique in 1971 and produced the first of a series of paintings on Martinique. The painting Byzantine Dimension was inspired by the rainforest of northern Martinique and depicted the magic woman in nature, a jet-black nude with a serpent hanging from her hand. Beardens snake charmer recalls, on the face of it, the earlier primitivist fantasies of Breton and Rousseau. Martinique as a privi leged site for the atavistic and nonrational illustrates the problematic nature of the S urrealists romanticizing of the luxuriant Tropics. Merely three years after Bretons passage through the Caribbean, Alejo Carpentier claimed in his prologue to The Kingdom of this World (1974), that Martiniques rainfor est had simply overwhelmed the Surrealists, in particular the painter Andr Masson, and that it took a genuine New W orld painter, W ifredo Lam, to show us the magic of tropical vegetation (Carpentier 1874:10). Sally and Richard Prices beautifully illustrated account of Beardens Caribbean works raises the question of the extent to which Bearden genu inely captures the magic of the Caribbean. W as he just another variation on
272 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Breton, resorting to stereotypes of irrationality and atavism to represent the Caribbean? W as he a Masson or a Lam? Or neither. In this regard, the most important subtext in this study of Bearden is his relationship with the poet and sometime painter Derek W alcott. Because of the American difficulty with accepting the Caribbean as a site of serious culture there is a void in the art worlds vision of Bearden (p. 16) and W alcott is key to understand ing the impact of the Caribbean on the African American painter. W alcott not only used one of Beardens collages for the cover of his 1979 collec tion of poems The Star-Apple Kingdom but also collaborated in 1983 with Bearden on a book of paintings and poetry entitled The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Bearden W alcott gives us insight into Beardens Caribbeanness by stressing the painters humility. Unlike the Surrealists, he did not attempt to appropriate the Caribbean as the realm of a universal primitivism. The Prices concur with W alcott by observing that Bearden did not bring the same identitarian toolkit to the Caribbean, where however much he came to appreciate the rhythms of local life he always considered himself a visitor, there to learn (pp. 103, 108). More importantly, however, W alcott suggests that the strength of Beardens Caribbean work lay in his interest in capturing the fleeting moment, the tran sient. As he observes, W hen he came to the Caribbean he wasnt interested in doing Caribbean history. He was more taken by the immediacy of the light (p. 108). A statement such as this from W alcott immediately evokes the poets book of poems Tiepolos Hound (2000) in which a remarkably similar line can be found, this time in relation to the French impressionist Camille Pissaro, who was born in St. Thomas in the V irgin Islands: the paint is all that counts, no guilt, no pardon, / no history (W alcott 2000:58). So for W alcott, both Pissaro and Bearden are exemplary New W orld art ists who have learnt to look/ at the instant (W alcott 2000:55). This is a central idea in W alcotts own poetics in which the Caribbean is the site of an Adamic rebirth and a restorative amnesia as he consistently encourages the Caribbean artist to turn away from the petrifying force of the medusa of history. Bearden would be then like Pissaro who took a Caribbean preoc cupation with the fragmented, the incomplete into French Impressionism. The splintered sunlight on the Caribbean islands blazed at the back of (Pissaros) mind (W alcott 2000:48) and makes the Impressionist movement, in W alcotts view, profoundly indebted to the Caribbean. The Prices book both provides an introduction to Beardens littleknown Caribbean paintings and argues that an understanding of Beardens Caribbean experience permits a critical reassessment of all the art he produced during the final fifteen years of his life, whether in St Martin or New York (p. 16). In the same way that W alcott moves the Caribbean to the center of European Impressionism, a case is made for the centrality of the Caribbean to Beardens imaginary. After the 1971 visit to Martinique Beardens non-
273 BOOK REVIEW S Caribbean work became increasingly influenced by his Caribbean experi ence and many of his Caribbean style works were being produced in his studio in Long Island City (p. 92). A number of art critics Lowery Sims, Hilton K ramer, Calvin Tomkins among others point to a new lushness, and vibrant, glowing colors that became dominant in Beardens palette. As an engaged visitor, Bearden was particularly drawn to Martinique, which had a special place in (his) imaginaire (p. 99) but he never painted Haiti, which fascinated him. He maintained a respectful distance refus ing to generalize the magic of the Caribbean as Carpentier himself would, making Haiti into the lynchpin of his theory of marvelous realism in the New W orld. Besides landscapes, sunsets, and market scenes, Bearden also concentrated on two Caribbean rituals: O beah and carnival. I n the 1980s his watercolors on Rituals of the Obeah are, we are told, his most personal works, not ethnographic documents but expressions of feelings out of the depths of his consciousness (p. 125). For Bearden the insider outside r they seem to project the drama of his own relationship to the Caribbean transgression, risk, and the others opacity. Similarly, the carnival series, most of which was done in 1987, is as much about color and festivity as it is about the intimate drama of death since Bearden was ill with bone cancer at the time. Ultimately, we are indebted to S ally and Richard Price for argu ing in this lavishly illustrated book that it is the light of the Caribbean that allowed Bearden to see his own world anew. REFERENCE S CAR P ENTIER, ALE J O, 1974. El reino de este mundo. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Economica. WALCOTT, DEREK, 1979 Star-Apple Kingdom. New York: Farrar, S traus and Giroux 2000. Tiepolos Hound. New York: Farrar, S traus and Giroux. & RO M ARE BEARDEN, 1983 The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Bearden. New York: Limited Edition Club.
274 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candombl J. LORAND MATORY. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. viii + 383 pp. (Paper U S $ 26.95) STE P HAN PAL M I Department of Anthropology University of Chicago Chicago IL 60637, U.S .A.
275 BOOK REVIEW S context of a set of forcefully argued and extensively documented case studies on the careers of two truly Atlantic constellations of cultural forms and patterns of collective identification those known today as Nag/Queto and Jeje in Brazil, and as Yoruba and Fon in Africa. In both instances, it becomes clear that a conspicuous and amply documented traffic, back and forth between Africa and Brazil, not only of people and goods, but ideas, plays havoc with notions that would predicate the historical relations between African homelands and their diasporas on understandings of Afro-Atlantic cultural processes as the initial transmission and subsequent erosion, in New W orld real time, of aboriginally African cultural forms. I nstead, Matory shows how the very idea of African origins (and the associated valuations placed on purity in the faithful reproduction of things African) that was being propagated, since the late nineteenth century, by a set of cosmopolitan entrepreneurial trav elers sometimes African-born, but more often than not at home in Brazil not only impacted a set of discourses crucial to the reproduction of African derived (and sometimes not-so-African-derived) practices in Brazil. Just as importantly, these travelers and the local connections they forged on both sides of the Atlantic were also instrumental in shaping lastingly influential represen tations of their supposed African cultures of origin, thereby likewise helping to transform the realities such discourses purported to reflect. I n so arguing, Matory makes a strong and convincing case for a rigorous historicization of Africanity (and Yorubaness in particular). R ather than treat such terms as unproblematic designators of empirically given qualities whose presence or absence in a given social formation, set of practices, or complex of ideas could be assessed in a context-independent fashion, Matory urges us to focus on the cultural work that attributions of Africanity per form in specific social and political arenas including those within which academic formations of discourse on such matters take shape and exert their authorizing functions. In delineating such scenarios of dialogic cultural production, Matory aims not merely to contribute to Afro-Brazilian stud ies, or redirect the epistemological thrust of African Americanist anthropol ogy. He also targets a much larger social science literature, chiding expo nents of the current vogue of transnational scholarship for their unwitting complicity in the same conceptual disappearing act that makes the forms of consociation characteristic of Matorys Afro-Atlantic look so unusual and theoretically challenging. Indeed, as Matory suggests, much of our present fascination with transnational social processes would seem to derive from the ironic fact that anthropology may have bought into some of the most tenacious nationalist fictions of the nineteenth century (during which it, after all, consolidated its disciplinary identity as a science of the imperial W estern nation states political alter: the similarly spatially fixed, but distinctly noncoeval tribe). As in the case of imperial administrators endless frustrations with (and colonial anthropologists no less pronounced fascination with) so-
276 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) called stateless societies, the translocal imagined communities Matorys research brings to light may well derive a good deal of their seeming excep tionality from a prior naturalization, in much social theory, of the territorial nation state as the implicit model for (or telos of) human sociality. The collective identities forged by enslaved Africans and their descen dants in the New W orld were, thus, no mere re-assertions of former African modes of collective identification (a fact clearly borne out in Matorys pains taking reconstruction of the transatlantic vagaries of a Djedji/Jeje identity over the course of a long twentieth century). S uch Atlantic patterns of identi fication were contingent on highly specific contextual structures of opportu nity and constraints, as well as upon the willful and often wily strategizing of people aiming to gain from propagating the means of imagining certain types of community rather than others. Here Matory might have provided a fuller discussion of the historical ironies of Afro-Brazilian nation-ness in light of pre-nationalistic understandings of the concept of nation (which was not, after all, bound to notions of territoriality, let alone sovereignty). At one point he writes that the current usage of the term nao in the Brazilian Candombl comes close to the English term denomination and this, precisely, may be the point: in all likelihood, the African naoes of colonial Brazil were com munities integrated less by ideas about shared primordial origins, than by forms of present-oriented, contextually based, elective affinity. So, obvi ously, are those of the modern Candombl which, after all, transcend even the boundaries of race. And while Matory makes clear that such affinities revolve around eminently practical (rather than transcendent) concerns, his prose at times effects unnecessary slippage between a local religious register on the one hand in which the term na o functions as a designator of certain canons of ritual practice and the language of modern ethnonationalism on the other which, needless to say, distorts both the historical and contemporary realities Black Atlantic Religion aims to address. More puzzling is Matorys antagonism toward a Brazilian literature that has, since the 1980s, aimed to deconstruct locally enshrined images of African purity by reference to a coalition of interests between enterprising Candombl priests and anthropologists and other public intellectuals cham pioning a Bahian regionalist agenda. Matorys work undoubtedly adds a new dimension to this critique of earlier anthropological reifications. Yet it is hard to see how Matorys allegation that scholars such as Beatriz Dantas Gois or Peter Fry denied agency to Black entrepreneurs and priests might do more for his general argument than set up a bunch of intellectual straw men. Given that Matory himself makes an argument about life imitating scholarship in discussing the contemporary articulations between the discourses of strat egizing Candombl practitioners and those of public intellectuals purporting to inscribe their practices into political allegories masking as social science (p. 221 ff.), why should similar forms of mutual manipulation and complic
277 BOOK REVIEW S ity not have obtained in the 1930s? Whatever Matorys disagreements with these Brazilian scholars might be, his own data are too rich and convincing to need bolstering by such ad hominem arguments. Perhaps the least successful part of this brilliant and truly path-breaking book is Matorys attempt to unhinge long-standing, and indeed highly trou bling representations of the Candombl priesthood as a domain of women and male passive homosexuals. Matory is certainly right in charging that R uth Landess City of Women (1947) established an empirically questionable imag ery of the Candombl as a proto-feminist utopia and introduced a dubious psychological functionalist argument concerning the alleged preponderance of abnormal men among the male priesthood. True also that the reasons for why Landess views left a near-indelible mark on the scholarship on the Candombl (and, indeed, on popular perceptions of its priesthood) ought to be sought in a convergence between international scholarship and local structures of interest (both among W hite elites bent on domesticating the Candombl, and on the part of powerful priestesses). S till, Landes was a mere exponent of a powerful ideological formation within Anglophone anthropology at the time. Few of the second generation of Boass students (and, indeed, some British scholars such as I .M. Lewis as well) seemed immune to reductive interpretations of spirit possession as a compensatory device for individuals socially disempowered or marginalized on account of their gender or sexual orientation. I n light of this rather prolific literature (which not infrequently recurred to African American possession cults for cases in point), Matorys assertion that the ad (male [passive] homosexual possession priest) became an open secret in Brazil seems surprising. More problematic, however, is Matorys explanation for why notions about the homosexual orientation of male possession priests gained such purchase in Brazil. What Matory sug gests is that an essentially Yoruba logic metaphorically associating pos session with sexual penetration and a pattern of female sartorials among ings of sexual practices and identities (i.e. literalized). W hile not inherently implausible, such an argument, however, would seem to resuscitate the very (Herskovitsian) comparative scheme Matory has just demolished (e.g., on p. 209), and so comes close to re-essentializing the concept of a Yoruba-past that he so carefully deconstructed before. The problem here is not whether male possession priests really tend toward certain sexual orientations. Nor is it whether Matorys Yoruba metaphorics of penetration, horsemanship, and husbandliness really structure local conceptions and discourses about the rela tion between possession spirits and their human mediums. I t is that we appear to have returned to the same kind of unit-to-unit comparativism Matory convincingly dissuades us from in other parts of the book. But this is a minor flaw in a truly remarkable book. Black Atlantic Religion is a spectacular empirical achievement, and ought to be regarded as one of
278 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) the most sophisticated arguments to date against the kind of epistemologi cally nave verificationism that has long dominated African Americanist anthropology, and that is rapidly regaining ground among historians these days. Matory makes a forceful case for rethinking the spatio-temporal coor dinates within which we situate our inquiries into local cultures or those seemingly new translocal forms of sociality which, after all, emerged on the slave-holding littoral of the Americas close to five centuries before their mod ern transnational equivalents became even remotely thinkable for us all. REFERENCE S LANDE S, RUTH, 1947. The City of Women. New York: Macmillan. NINA RODRIGUE S, RAY M UNDO, 1900. Lanimisme ftichiste des N gres de Bahia. S alvador de Bahia: Reis. Three Eyes for the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience DIANNE M. STEWART O xford: O xford University Press, 2005. xxi + 332 pp. (Paper U S $ 24.95) BETTY WOOD Girton College University of Cambridge Cambridge CB2 1QY, U.K
279 BOOK REVIEW S Scholars, but more especially historians, have long been concerned with delineating the W est and Central African origins and components of the reli gious beliefs and practices that enslaved people struggled to carve out for themselves in the evolving slave societies of the Caribbean and American mainland, and not least with attempts to establish distinctions between sur vivals and similarities. Often allied with this has been a concern to trace the encounters between these survivals, similarities, and various forms of Christianity. I n the case of Jamaica, of course, this meant Protestantism, and by the early nineteenth century it meant evangelical Protestantism. Stewart concerns herself with these encounters, and the threat posed by Christianity to traditional beliefs and practices, but her principal interest is in Africanderived religions rather than a more E urocentric discussion of the origins and evolution of syncretic Black Christianities. Using a variety of European-generated records both quantitative and qualitative she begins her path-breaking work with an entirely convincing account of what she describes as the six essentially syncretic foundational characteristics of continental African religions (p. 24) that took shape and deep root in Jamaica during the years of the transatlantic slave trade. In the densely argued chapters that follow she focuses on these six characteristics a communotheistic understanding of the Divinity; ... ancestral veneration; possession trance and mediumship; food offerings and animal sacrifice; divi nation and herbalism; and an entrenched belief in neutral mystical power (p. 24) and teases out the often complicated manner in which they continue to the present day, not only in Jamaica but also elsewhere in the African diaspora. Of particular interest, and novelty, is her fieldwork notably the interviews aimed at demonstrating the persistence of various traditional African beliefs, assumptions, and practice s. Given the emphasis on agency and empowerment that has charac terized much of the recent scholarship on slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas, the stress that S tewart places on the resilience of enslaved Africans, their determination to define and to maintain their own religious beliefs and practices, often against the most appalling odds, comes as no great surprise. But this is the most complete, sophisticated, and compelling analysis thus far of how, and with what longer-term consequences, that determination manifested itself in the Jamaican context. Particularly significant is S tewarts nuanced discussion of the roles retained by African women in Jamaica as what might be described as both guardians and definers of traditional reli gious cultures. I n many ways this makes her study a work on the history of gender as well as on the history of religion. To her enormous credit, she has not ghettoized these women into a separate womens chapter, but left them in the crucial roles that they played within the gendered worlds that were so familiar to them. However, and bearing in mind that S tewarts prime concern is with African-derived religions rather than with the origins and development
280 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) of Afro-Jamaican Christianity, it is perhaps worth noting that in Jamaica, as well as in the American S outh, there is evidence to suggest that when it came to the adoption of Christianity women also assumed a role as cultural inno vators. The rationale that underpinned womens radically different religious decision-making processes still remains something of a mystery. The resilience and sheer determination of people of different African ancestries in Jamaica to preserve as much as they possibly could of the foundational characteristics of their religious beliefs and practices is a cen tral theme of S tewarts fine book. The other, and closely allied with it, is the manner in which, from the beginnings of enslavement, those same charac teristics have been belittled, demeaned, and demonized by successive gen erations of E uropeans and E uro-Jamaicans. As she rightly, and angrily, points out, the African-derived and African-centered religions of Jamaica (and for that matter the other slave and formerly slave societies of the Caribbean and Americas) have seldom, if ever, been treated as serious theologies. In what is yet another pioneering contribution, she subjects these theologies to a sys tematic, rigorous analysis, and one that will remain the definitive statement for the foreseeable future. Intellectually ambitious and conceptually and methodologically sophisti cated, this is a work of monumental importance, one that completely redefines and reorders our understanding of the religious histories and experience s of Jamaica and successive generations of Jamaicans. It will undoubtedly exert a profound influence on the scholarship in this field for years to come. The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World. TOYIN FALOLA & MATT D. CHILD S (eds.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. xii + 455 pp. (Paper U S $ 27.95) KI M D BUTLER Department of Africana S tudies Rutgers University New Brunswick NJ 08903, U.S .A.
281 BOOK REVIEW S reflecting both these developments. In their introduction, Falola and Childs observe that the generation of databases such as The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade CD-ROM (1999) and the more targeted Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy Database (2000), along with the mammoth Nigerian Hinterland Slave Routes Project led by Paul Lovejoy, have provided data necessary for tracing certain diasporic streams within the Atlantic slave trade. R ecent work has updated the Herskovitsian thesis of culture zones to more carefully inves tigate the regional W est Central African diaspora in the Americas based on the premise of broadly shared sociocultural constructs (e.g., Heywood 2002, W arner-Lewis 2003). It has been far more challenging to identify the disper sal and subsequent evolution of individual ethnonational diasporas, though some work on the Yoruba has focused on specific networks within the larger diaspora (e.g., Mann & Bay 2001). Few scholars have the expertise to ade quately address the homeland and the many destination sites, but the Yoruba have captured the imagination of scholars on all the shores of the Atlantic. The Yoruba also represent a particularly rich case study for several other reasons explored in this volume, including their demographic concentration in such destinations as Cuba and Bahia (Brazil) and detailed documentation garnered from illegal traders trafficking in Yoruba captives. In addition, the timing of their arrival relatively late in the cultural formation of the Americas makes it easier to trace identifiable Yoruba practices, an effort at the heart of several chapters. Although this is a multi-authored collection, the editors bring a cohesive vision to the project in their introduction. They posit the work as a recon ciliation between the Mintz and Price creolization model (1992), empha sizing how identities and cultures were re-imagined, and an Atlantic model that takes Africa more substantively into account as constitutive of diaspora lives. In large measure, the essays bridge those approaches. The book also accomplishe s another necessary synthesis between the essential work of quantification and nuanced qualitative analysis. The authors show admirable restraint in trying to define a primordial Yoruba culture, a significant conceptual intervention for diaspora scholars. Homeland has many representations in the diaspora, quite frequently ide alized as a fixed historic-cultural moment. However, the very fact of dia sporization in itself signals a community in great flux. As the essays demon strate, homeland evolves as a result of events and imaginings both in the diaspora and its area(s) of origin. How does one define Yoruba? The essays problematize overly simplistic answers; for example, they detail the underap preciated importance of Islam in the formation of Yoruba identity. A recurrent theme addressed by many of the authors is why the Yoruba, who were late arrivals and a relatively small percentage of the total number of Africans landed in the Americas, left such a disproportionately power ful cultural legacy. Chapters on Bahia, Cuba, and Haiti explore the popu
282 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) lar explanation of dense demographic concentrations arriving within a short period of time. What truly fleshes out the discussion is the inclusion of chap ters on smaller Yoruba populations in such places as Costa Rica, Trinidad, and the Bahamas. As this is taken up by most of the essays, one gets a fuller understanding of how particular Yoruba social, cultural, and economic insti tutions, along with their tradition of cosmopolitanism, were well suited to serve New W orld challenges not only for Yoruba people, but also for many others attempting to cope with those same conditions. These institutions fre quently served as pathways for individuals to become Yoruba. O rganized in four sections, the volume begins by considering the complex calculations of total numbers of Yoruba-speakers uprooted from their home lands, illuminating the multiplicities of identities that only later would fall under a shared ethnonym. The second section maps the dispersal of Yoruba, and the third probes particular cultural hallmarks of the Yoruba presence and subsequent legacy. The final section examines fascinating, but under studied, dynamics of diaspora. It traces the complexities of return to irre vocably transformed homelands concurrent with transformations within the diaspora populations themselves. Here we see Yoruba in historically Yoruba towns under colonial rule as well as in other African destinations. Circuitous paths have bound them to new transnational communities of Muslims and Christians; others have attempted to maintain ancestral religions in a for eign milieu. It is particularly rich to see the interactions of Yorubas whose trajectories have created diverse iterations of diaspora. Thus, such groups as S aro, Aku, and Brazilian represent historically distinct experiences of Yoruba diaspora returnees that are rightfully considered alongside those of the Yoruba who remained abroad. This book is a convenient compendium of current scholarship on the Yoruba, and the wide array of top specialists provides insight into distinct disciplinary and regional debates. There is some unavoidable repetitive ness of quantitative and historical data, but because these are contextualized within each essay, each restatement provides a fresh angle and allows for chapters to better stand alone for reading assignments. A map would have been helpful. Given the essays emphasis on the dynamism of the Yoruba diaspora, it was a bit disappointing to find no discussion of the contemporary migrations of Yoruba peoples to Europe and the United S tates. The relationship of older to more recent waves of diaspora remains to be fully explored. This, how ever, was not the central objective of this book, which promises to be a useful reference on one of the most influential cultures of the African diaspora.
283 BOOK REVIEW S REFERENCE S HEYWOOD, LINDA M. (ed.), 2002. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MANN, KRI S TIN & EDNA G. BAY (eds.), 2001. Rethinking the African Diaspora: The Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil London & Portland: Frank Cass. MINTZ, SIDNEY W & RICHARD PRICE 1992. The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective Boston: Beacon. [O rig. 1976.] WARNER-LEWI S, MAUREEN 2003. Central Africa in the Caribbean: Transcending Time, Transforming Cultures Mona: University of the W est Indies Press. An Intellectual History of the Caribbean SILVIO TORRE S-SAILLANT New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006. xiv + 290 pp. (Paper U S $ 24.95) ANTHONY P. MAINGOT Department of S ociology Florida International University Miami FL 33199, U.S .A.
284 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) said, there is nothing here that shows him to be either favorably impressed or sanguine about the regions culture. The space Caribbean writers and thinkers had created during the 1950s, he claims, is shrinking (p. 40). I t has become a region which now specializes in losing, in part because it is in the hands of morally feeble leaders. R ather than advancing culturally, the region is regressing so much that now we can hardly find traces of that former sense of intellectual autonomy, authenticity and leadership. There is, in short, a loss of luster of the products of the Caribbean mind (p. 43). W hat prism does TorresS aillant use to reach such categorical conclusions? Astonishingly, the theoretical (always used in quotes) approach laid out in Chapter 1, which dominates the rest of the book, is derived entirely from his intellectual and political autobiography (p. 8). As interesting and revealing as his origins in the Dominican R epublic and colonial migration to the United S tates are, on what grounds can he claim that his personal experiences open the door to a new theory of Caribbean history, culture, and destiny? (p. 7). A major weakness of the book is that while Torres-Saillant quite ably focuse s on a multitude of humble luminaries, he has overlooked some of the classical debates that are already part of the regions intellectual history. O ne could start with his premise that the Caribbean is a distinct culture area, a region with ecological imperatives of its own (p. 5). Lacking is any reflection on the long-standing question as to whether the Caribbean is indeed a culture area (namely Melville Herskovits, S idney Mintz, R ichard Morse) and how answering that might impact our interpretations of the one, or many, cultures. Torres-Saillant rejects all W estern ontologies, only to postulate his own ontology stating that he is pursuing an archeology of ideas derived from a history which has gone through successive stages of domination, insurrec tion, resistance, adaptation and nation building (p. 7). Nowhere is there dis cussion of the more recent comparative literature asking why in certain parts of the Caribbean there have been no insurrections and why there has been a distinct definition of nationhood that has little to do with independence. ( S ee, for instance, O ostindie & K linkers 2003 and the essays in S utton 1991.) Equally superficial is Torres-Saillants adoption of Kamau Brathwaites alternative paradigm of tidalectics, which he claims is an autochtho nous paradigm befitting the Caribbeans sinuosity (pp. 42, 241). The liter ary figure cum sociological metaphor-paradigm of Caliban is central to his view of the region and he draws on Brathwaites 1983 study and the 1972 use of the metaphor by the Cuban Fernndez Retamar. This being the case, it might have been useful if he had discussed O. Mannonis original (1950) formulation of the metaphor in his Prospero and Caliban and the devastat ing critique of Mannonis theory of a Third W orld Prospero complex by Mannonis ex-student Frantz Fanon in his Black Skin, White Masks (1952). In the final analysis they are all referring to the colonial situation which, as Mannoni pointed out, involves a mass of illusions and misunderstand
285 BOOK REVIEW S ings not dissimilar to the substance of Brathwaites tidalectics. Again, is Torres-Saillant interested in pursuing long-standing debates or reinventing the wheel of Caribbean intellectual history? On what grounds can any new intellectual history of the Caribbean ignore the many queries and chal lenges raised in the most celebrated and combative intellectual history of the region, Gordon K. Lewis Main Currents in Caribbean Thought (1983), or write about the Dominican Republics nineteenth century without any refer ence to H. Hoetinks 1971 classic, El pueblo dominicano ? Certainly the course of Caribbean intellectual history-writing should heed the words of Philip Mason in his foreword to the 1956 English edition of Prospero and Caliban (Mannoni 1956) While in f undamental disagreement with Mannonis formulations, Mason tells us that Mannonis book has to be read as the opening speech of a debate, which best serves its purpose if it provokes an eagerness to continue the discussion. One certainly welcomes the contributions of scholars from the various diasporas. One can only hope, however, that in redrawing the image of what the Caribbean is, they will not relegate much of what has already been written and debated to the trash heap of history. REFERENCE S FANON, FRANTZ, 1967. Black Skin, White Masks New York: Grove Press. [O rig. 1952.] FERNANDEZ RETA M AR, RO B ERTO, 1974. Caliban: Apuntes sobre la cultura en nuestra America Mexico D.F.: Editorial Digenes. [O rig. 1971.] HOETINK, H. 1982. The Dominican People, 1850-1900: Notes for a Historical Sociology. Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. [O rig. 1971.] LEWI S, GORDON K 2004. Main Currents in Caribbean Thought. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. [O rig. 1983.] MANNONI, O. 1956. Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization New York: Frederick A. Praeger. [O rig. 1950.] OO S TINDIE, GERT & INGE KLINKER S 2003. Decolonising the Caribbean: Dutch Policies in a Comparative Perspective Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. SUTTON, PAUL (ed.), 1991. Europe and the Caribbean London: Macmillan Education.
286 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830 J.H ELLIOTT. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. 546 pp. (Cloth U S $ 35.00) AARON SP ENCER FOGLE M AN Department of History Northern Illinois University DeK alb IL 60115, U.S .A. < email@example.com u > J.H. Elliotts comparative study of English and Spanish colonization in the Americas is a sweeping synthesis that contributes significantly to our under standing of how E uropean empires rose and fell from the sixteenth centur y to the early nineteenth. To make the study of these empires over more than three centuries manageable, E lliott chose to focus on British efforts in Massachusetts and V irginia, and S panish efforts in Mexico and Peru, leaving out Brazil and the Caribbean. Drawing on a vast amount of secondary literature in S panish and English, for which there is an excellent bibliography, as well as printed docu ments, he makes a number of important comparisons and contrasts between the two imperial enterprises. His thesis is that the English were aware of the earlier S panish example and were influenced by it in the seventeenth century. O n the other hand, in the late eighteenth century the S panish colonies emulated the British North American colonies in their independence movements. That is, S panish American independence would not have come, or come in the form that it did, without the American Revolution to the north (p. 391). Elliotts approach, perspective, and purpose are clear throughout the book. He wants to assess England and Spain as imperial powers, and in doing so he finds that Spain compared well to England in its colonization efforts, unlike what many nineteenthand twentieth-century histories and stereotypes comparing the United S tates and Latin America suggest. S panish colonial administration was quite efficient and modern in the sense of being able to exert state power and influence over its subjects. I n fact, E lliott believes that it was more successful at this than the government at home in Spain, or in any other European government at the time. If the two regions took separate paths after independence, the causes were rooted more in the way independence came about than in their respective colonial experiences. E lliotts perspective, using the traditional comparative imperial approach and the metropole-periphery model to analyze each empire, precludes an investi gation of Indians and African slaves as players in colonial developments. Elliott makes numerous important points in his comparison of the two empires. The Spanish archetype was to establish a seat of government and
287 BOOK REVIEW S rule the native population, induce natives into the European economy, and promote a civilizing mission (to include wearing European clothes and conversion to Christianity). In the seventeenth century English colonists in North America attempted to follow this model, incorporating the enslave ment and Christianization of I ndians, but the circumstances were simply too different to bring success. The S panish were dealing with heavily populated, centralized, urban areas in Mexico and Peru, while the English were deal ing with scattered, rural native populations in North America. Moreover the E nglish were influenced by their experience in I reland, which involved slowl y expanding their area of settlement and influence without directly exploiting labor or conversion to Protestantism. On the other hand, the Spanish were influenced by methods employed during the Reconquista, which included conquering urban areas and conversion to Christianity. In the end New W orld conditions and Old W orld backgrounds led the English to abandon their attempts to emulate the Spanish colonial model by the second half of the seventeenth century. British ascendancy beginning in the late seventeenth century was based upon the sugar revolution, seizure of S panish possessions in the Caribbean and Central America that furthered piracy (directed primar ily at the Spanish silver fleets), and a more flexible imperial approach that allowed self-government in its colonies and relatively little royal administra tion. Spanish decline set in during the same period because of troubles in Spain itself, increasing trade among the colonies instead of to Spain, and with this increasing creole power and interests separate from those of the S panish crown. The turning point came with the Treaty of Madrid in 1670, when the S panish ceded lands that the English had already taken from them. I n the eighteenth century creole elites in both empires were engaged in the precarious process of building and maintaining their status and power without upsetting the mother countries or the lower order in their colonial societies. They had to do this in a very different world from that of elites in E ngland and S pain. I n both cases notions of creole degeneracy, as well as imperial reform movements in the second half of the eighteenth century, alienated creoles. These elites strove to become loyal equals to their transatlantic counterparts, but they were rejected because of the cultural view that the New W orld envi ronment (contact with other races, primitive conditions, for example) had, over time, made them inferior and because of diverging political and eco nomic interests. Creoles in both empires revolted at about the same time (the 1770s and early 1780s), but only the British North Americans were initially successful. Their success helped to pave the way for S panish colonials later. E lliotts comparative analysis of empires does not go far in exploring the situation of I ndians and especially African slaves. Yet the Atlantic slave trade and African slavery in the Americas were critical components of the Atlantic W orld that many historians have addressed lately, and this omission leaves Elliotts comparison of the two empires somewhat incomplete. However, the
288 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) book is important for what it does do. The argument that the English fol lowed the Spanish lead in the seventeenth century is well supported. And while Elliotts view that Spanish creoles followed the British creoles in the path toward independence is more asserted than demonstrated, he is certainly in good company with this claim. Perhaps more importantly, his point that British and S panish creoles found themselves in a similar position in the late eighteenth century and made their moves accordingly is critical in under standing Atlantic developments in this period. The Creation of the British Atlantic World ELIZA B ETH MANCKE & CAROLE SHA MM A S (eds.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. vi + 400 pp. (Cloth U S $ 52.00) PETER A COCLANI S Department of History University of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC 27599-3195, U.S .A.
289 BOOK REVIEW S To say that The Creation of the British Atlantic World is the product of a harmonic convergence is not to suggest that the thirteen essays included in the volume demonstrate much thematic unity. In her very insightful and inven tive introduction, co-editor Carole Shammas strives hard to bring cohe sion to the collection, classifying the contributions under three broad rubrics: Transatlantic S ubjects, Transatlantic Connections, and I mperial V isions and Transatlantic R evisions. I f truth be told, though, S hammass efforts arent completely successful. To this reviewer the volume is united rather more by the association of the contributors with Greene and, not surprisingly then, by the high quality of the individual essays than either by alliteration or by subjects, connections, visions, and revisions (transatlantic or otherwise!). The range of Greenes interests is suggested by the scope of the volume, which includes essays on virtually every aspect of the British Atlantic world over the course of the period between about 1500 and 1820. The only major field that is not treated explicitly is economic history, and even so several of the individual essays deal in part with matters economic. Part I of The Creation of the British American World entitled Transatlantic Subjects, includes five essays that, as far as I can tell, are grouped together mainly because each of the essays is on a subject That said, two of these essays are absolutely first rate: one by James Horn and Philip D. Morgan on the quantitative and qualitative contours of European and African migration to British America, and another by Joyce E. Chaplin on the importance and implications (and, alas, relative scholarly neglect) of Indian slavery in early British America. The three remaining essays in this section of the collection are valuable microhistories, wherein the authors, Mark L. Thompson, David Barry Gaspar, and Ray A. Kea, use individual cases at once to enhance and complicate our understanding of the bases of allegiance and authority in early British America (Thompson) and of race and slavery (Gaspar and K ea). Part II (Transatlantic Connections) comprises four illuminating essays dealing with the social, legal, and religious history of early British America. April Lee Hatfield documents the important role merchants, shippers, and seamen played in British America by providing landlubbers with up-to-date information about goings-on around the Atlantic world. According to Hatfield, this role was particularly important in the seventeenth century when a greater proportion of land-based colonists came into contact with the marine com munity and before alternative sources of such information most notably newspapers were widely available. In a stimulating piece on the legal cul ture of colonial British America, W illiam M. O ffut discusse s the many differ ent sources of legal capital settlers drew upon before narrowing their legal imaginations in the late seventeenth century to the common-law tradition. The last two essays in this section are what might be called religious offer ings: In one, Avihu Zakai provides a close analysis of Jonathan Edwardss engagement with, and partial rejection of, various aspects of Enlightenment
290 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) thought, and in the other, W olfgang Splitter lays out the problems German Lutheran missionaries faced in attempting to organize and structure spiritual activities in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania. However tenuous the relationships among the essays in Parts I and II and they are tenuous indeed things become even more exiguous in Part III which is creatively entitled Imperial V isions and Transatlantic Revisions. In my view, there is no substantive way to relate the four essays in this sec tion to one another. Not to worry, though: Each of them is very good and merits our attention. In the first, Elizabeth Mancke, who co-edited the vol ume, draws attention to the complex history of chartered colonies in the British American world, while in the second, the always interesting Robert O lwell traces striking imperial/botanical connections between the creation of K ew Gardens and the British colonial project in Florida. Following O lwells essay is an excellent piece by John E. Crowley on the beginnings of land scape painting in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century, and the manner in which this genre was deployed for imperial purposes. The volume ends with a fascinating essay by Karin W olf on the ways in which one impor tant Quaker family in Pennsylvania made strategic use of its British roots to create cultural capital helpful, if not necessary, in negotiating the changing political landscape of postRevolutionary America. At the end of the day, then, what we find in The Creation of the British Atlantic World is a collection of superb essays connected not so much by matters of substance, but by the relationship of the authors to one Jack P. Greene. For me and, I suspect, most readers that connection is more than enough to deem the volume a success. Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empires Slaves ADA M HOCH S CHILD New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. x + 468 pp. (Cloth U S $ 26.95) CA SS ANDRA PY B U S S chool of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry University of S ydney S ydney N SW 2006, Australia
291 BOOK REVIEW S for pace, nuance, and drama, while at the same time giving close attention to a wide range of historical sources. If one were looking for a highly readable, generalist account of the movement to abolish the slave trade, Bury the Chains is a good choice. But I suspect most historians will be dissatisfied, and at times even irritated, by Hochschilds elegant reconstitution of the tale of a handful of high-minded E nglishmen who rendered the trade in human beings abhorrent by forcing their fellow Britons to acknowledge the horror that lay behind the sugar they consumed, the tobacco they smoked, and the coffee they drank. At the end of the eighteenth century it was no small task to end the trans atlantic slave trade, as Hochschild forcefully reminds us. It was a crack pot, wildly idealistic notion that flew in the face of contemporary economic reason. Yet, driven by the passion of the indefatigable Thomas Clarkson, the abolitionists persisted with their utopian quest to create a popular move ment, which became the very first human rights campaign. Hochschild is clearly in awe of the gangly, redheaded Clarkson. The self-serving sons of W illiam W ilberforce effaced Clarkson from the history of abolitionism, but Hochschilds book determinedly reinscribes this passionate moral warrior as the movements dynamic center. The passing of the Abolition Bill in 1807 was a significant achievement and Hochschild does well to remind us that the dogged moral integrity of the abolitionist crusade cannot be reduced to pragmatic economic imperatives. Bury the Chains presents a satisfying and engaging narrative, never so simplistic and self-congratulatory as the books subtitle and gushing blurb might suggest. Hochschild is aware of the limitations of the first abolition movement in refusing to tackle the problem of slavery. Even so, the book is disappointing for its failure to engage fully with the moral ambiguity of this movement and its key players. Hochschild is astute enough to see that the W edgwood medal of the kneeling slave captured the essential paternalistic character of the movement, and his discussion of the abolitionist-inspired settlement in Sierra Leone hints at how their humane concern could evapo rate when slaves got up off their knees. Yet he has ignored the cynically exploitative elements of the Abolition Bill and the seamless transition of abolitionists into the movement for the Christianization and colonization of Africa. In concluding his discussion of the bill, Hochschild seizes upon a significant exchange between W illiam W ilberforce and his close colleague, Henry Thornton (p. 308). W ell Henry, what shall we abolish next? the exultant W ilberforce declaimed. To which Thornton replied, The Lottery, I think. Here is a delicious scene of pious self-congratulation demanding deep analysis, yet Hochschild foregoes the opportunity rigorously to inter rogate this incident. Not only were W ilberforce, Thornton, and their allies unconcerned about extending humane reform to the institution of slavery itself, they actively facilitated the forced exploitation of Africans. W ith an eye to the prosecu
292 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) tion of the war against France in the Caribbean, the Abolition Bill provided that slaves liberated from slave ships were forfeited to the Crown. To ensure compliance with the new act, W ilberforce, Thornton, and others formed the African Institution, while at the same time they furiously lobbied the govern ment to make Sierra Leone a Crown Colony, advising the prime minister to designate Freetown the receiving depot for captured slave ships. Here, all fit African males slaves liberated from slave ships were turned over to military and naval authorities. I t was a cynical and immoral manoeuvre. The first governor of the crown colony, W ilberforces protg Thomas Perronet Thompson, quickly recognized that forced recruitment into lifetime military service in the W est India Regiments was just one step removed from slav ery. He refused to be party to it and wrote strong letters of protest. Enraged, W ilberforce ordered him to relinquish his command to Captain Columbine of the Royal Navy, who had instructions immediately to reinstate the recruit ment of liberated Africans. This behavior only appears grossly hypocritical if you choose to believe what the books subtitle trumpets, that W ilberforce and his allies were engaged in a fight to free the Empires slaves. This was not their fight. These pious E nglishmen adopted the abolitionist issue because they believed complicity in the trade degraded the moral integrity of the nation. Theirs was a moral crusade that took on a special impetus in the wake of the humiliat ing defeat by the American colonists. It was not so much the living condi tions of enslaved Africans that they cared about; rather they were concerned about the condition of their own souls. What happened on plantations in America and the W est Indies was a small matter, so long as Britons could be absolved from the corrupting taint of the trade in human beings. True, Thomas Clarkson did have a humane interest in the plight of African slaves, yet no less than W ilberforce he was driven by self-regard, seeing in the abolition campaign the opportunity to gain distinction as a heroic vision ary. Ironically, Clarksons overweening conceit was probably the greatest weapon in the abolitionist arsenal. As Christopher L. Brown has eloquently argued in his masterful Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism Clarkson presents a case study in the way that self-aggrandizing impulses can facilitate idealistic and humane actions. REFERENCE BROWN, CHRI S TO P HER L., 2006. Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
293 BOOK REVIEW S The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas WALTER JOHN S ON (ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. x + 389 pp. (Paper U S $ 35.00) GREGORY E. O MALLEY California I nstitute of Technology and Huntington Library Pasadena CA 91125, U.S .A.
294 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) in the United States is best understood as a paternalist system. They assert that, given the frequency with which plantation owners sold individual slaves and severed families to streamline their workforces, the slave regime must be understood as fundamentally market-oriented, even capitalist despite the lack of wage labor. If this was not capitalism, Johnson argues, then in some important way the descriptive power of that term as a tool of histori cal analysis has been diminished. For slaves ... were pieced out and priced on a grid that applied abstract notions of physical ability and potential (p. 8). Edward E. Baptist hastens to add that in this market slaves were often fetishized commodities, with the promise of sexual exploitation and mythi cal meaning factoring into the prices buyers paid. Even Lacy Ford who offers a dissenting voice with his assertion that the critique of the paternal ist paradigm scarcely draws blood acknowledges the importance of the market, arguing that the steady volume of trade helped keep the enormous amount of capital tied up in human property liquid. The Chattel Principle suggests that this market orientation of American slave regimes had a decidedly negative impact on the enslaved. Tadman, Graham, and S lenes illustrate the trades regular destruction of families in the United S tates and Brazil. O n the other hand, Hilary McD. Beckles shows that regulation of the internal market in the British Caribbean typically forced slaveholders to move whole families together. The essays also emphasize that masters used the threat of sale to long-distance traders as a tool to control their slaves with fear. Robert H. Gudmestad and Philip Troutman both show the desperate lengths to which slaves would go to escape the trade, through suicide, rebellion, and flight. Though few such efforts met with success, they were not without impact. Several of the authors argue that such resistance called attention to the trade, inciting public debate and antislavery sentiment in both the United S tates and Brazil. The chief weakness of the collection is a lack of geographic and temporal balance. O f the thirteen essays, eight focus on the United S tates, leaving just three for the W est Indies and two for Brazil. To some degree the imbalance reflects the scale of the internal markets that of the United S tates was indeed the largest, with over one million slaves moving to the southwest from 1790 to 1860 (p. 93). Nonetheless, the U.S bias limits the opportunity for compar ison. I n addition, the focus on the period after transatlantic abolition prevents comparison across time. Johnson suggests that before abolition there had been no knowledge or regulation of the internal slave trade (p. 4). That is not exactly true. The internal trade certainly received less attention while the transatlantic trade operated, but several British North American colonies enacted duties and prohibitions to limit slave imports from other colonies, voicing preference for African shipments. The Jamaican Assembly, on the other hand, passed several duties on slaves exported from that island in an effort to prevent the transshipment to foreign colonies of slaves arriving from
295 BOOK REVIEW S Africa. Likewise, during the Minas Gerais gold rush, some of Brazils sugar planters sought to limit the internal slave trade to interior mining regions. One wonders what a more thoroughgoing comparison of internal slave mar kets before and after the abolition of the transatlantic trade might yield. It is a sign of the importance of The Chattel Principle s subject and the quality of its conception and scholarship that readers are left wishing for more information on many points, despite constantly gaining new insights. Together, these essays demonstrate the vital importance of internal slave trades to the functioning of American slavery, for such markets kept prop erty in slaves (and hence the labor force) mobile and liquid. The books rich examination of the connections between internal slave trades and the work ings of the whole slave regime makes it required reading not only for stu dents of the slave trade, but also for those interested in the institution of slavery and the lives of the enslaved more broadly. The Dutch Slave Trade, 1500-1850. P.C. EMM ER New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2006. 166 pp. (Cloth U S $ 75.00, 45.00) VICTOR ENTHOVEN Royal Netherlands Naval College 1781 AC Den Helder, The Netherlands
296 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Correctness. In this amazing chapter, Emmer rebuked his reviewers and critics, calling Postma the head accountant of the Dutch slave trade (p. 265). The book under review is an English translation of the 2000 edition, with the 2003 epilogue fortunately omitted. How does one review a book that has already been reviewed in the same journal by the specialist in the field? Postma provided a clear outline and setup of the book, which I will not repeat here. Nor do I disagree with his assessment, quoted above. Rather, I will focus on two aspects of the book that, in my view, are misleading: the use of sources and the title. The book is based almost exclusively on secondary sources. Although the introduction suggests that it includes the findings of the most recent research on the slave trade in general, (p. 123) the bibliography reveals that it draws on only one publication published after 1999 (McLeod & De Haseth, Slavernij en memorie ). I t does not take into account new information on the volume, operation, and nature of the slave trade in general and the Dutch slave trade specifically, provided recently by Jelmer V os, David E ltis, Johannes Postma, Han Jordaan, and others. The bibliography also reveals a selective use of secondary sources: many scholarly publications that disagree with E mmers views are ignored, for example Alex van S tipriaans analyses of investments in slavery and the crisis of the Amsterdam S tock Exchange of 1773. The title, too, is infelicitous, for the book is not about the entire Dutch involvement in slave trading. I n explaining that his book is limited to the Dutch slave trade in the Atlantic area, (p. ix) E mmer points out that the Dutch also participated in the slave trade in Asia and in S outh Africa but that there is far less archival material about that trade. This is a curious argument for a book based almost exclusively on secondary sources. The book would be more accurately titled The Dutch Transatlantic Slave Trade. As for the time frame (1500-1830), merchants from the Netherlands were not to my knowl edge involved in the slave trade before 1600 in either the Atlantic or Asia. The books polemical character and selective use of sources have led to a number of inaccuracies. To cite but one of many, Emmer alludes to the sale of slaves on the island of Curaao (pp. 82-86). However, during the asiento trade with the Spanish colonies, most slaves on Curaao were not sold, but simply transferred to the agent of the asiento merchants on the island, while accounts between the Dutch W est India Company and the asiento merchants were settled in Amsterdam. Only sick slaves were auctioned in those years. S urprisingly, the word asiento does not even appear in the index. I t is unclear for what audience this book is intended. I t certainly is not a book for scholars. I n that respect, Postmas 1990 book is still unsurpassed. For use in the classroom, E mmers tone is too polemical. Postmas concise survey, The Atlantic Slave Trade (2003) or even Herbert S K leins The Atlantic Slave Trade (1999) both written for classroom use, are more appropriate. S o what kind of audience is left? Maybe E mmers purpose was to provoke, and in that
297 BOOK REVIEW S respect the book excels. E mploying a question-and-answer style, the book provides a summary of the Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade. Accounting for less than five percent of that trade, the Dutch were statistically minor participants in the traffic, yet their involvement was significant. REFERENCE S EMM ER, PIETER C ., 2000. De Nederlandse slavenhandel, 1500-1850. Amsterdam: Arbeiderspers. KLEIN, HER B ERT S., 1999. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. M CLEOD, CYNTHIA & CAREL DE HA S ETH, 2002. Slavernij en de memorie: Slaaf en meester. S choorl, the Netherlands: Conserve. PO S T M A, JOHANNE S 1990. The Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600-1815. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. , 2002. Review of P.C. Emmer, De Nederlandse slavenhandel 1500-1850 New West Indian Guide 76:122-24. 2003. The Atlantic Slave Trade W estport CT: Greenwood Press. Writing Race Across the Atlantic World, Medieval to Modern PHILI P BEIDLER & GARY TAYLOR (eds.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. x + 194 pp. (Paper U S $24.95) ERIC KI MB ALL Department of History University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA 15260, U.S .A.
298 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) essays favor a postmodernist approach, with close readings of selected text(s) or authors. Two essays, one by Benjamin Braude on the visual evolution of the S ons of Ham and the other by Gordon S ayre concerning the colonial origins posited about Native Americans, which continue to resonate in contemporary debates, interpretations, and even academic texts, are particular standouts. Many of the contributors focus their analysis upon one text or author. K aren Kupperman analyzes how Tacituss Life of Julius Agricola helped to shape E nglish colonial interpretations of an attack made in V irginia by Pamunkeys I ndians in 1622 (p. 30). K im Hall examines the works of seventeenth-century domestic manual writer Thomas Tyron, with a focus on his discussion of food practices to condemn slavery. By pursuing this line of inquiry, Hall hopes to show modern readers the ways in which foodways were used to mark often racialized status differences (p. 103). Francesca R oyster frames her analysis around a question: W hat can representational intersections between African and Animal in early modern drama tell us about the perceived subjectivity of black people during this period? (p. 113). Her answer is found in a close reading of John W ebsters 1612 play, White Devil and examination of the image of Zanche, a Moorish serving maid, interspersed with early modern discourse about the ownership and domestication of animals namely dogs (p. 114). Curiously though, while the plays general outline is provided, no information is provided about the author, or where and how he acquired (or invented) his ideas about Moors. Joseph R oach examines Covent Garden in England and its uses or appearances in the play Pygmalion R oach outlines his goal early ( I want to evoke a particular place, a situation, which is also a place in time, a predicament that goes by the name of the modern), before offering the argument that time the supreme cultural fiction no matter how it is narrated is more often experienced as heterogeneous and uneven, as cycli cal rather than linear, as asynchronous rather than synchronous (p. 138). Less sweeping is David J. Bakers analysis of the heterogeneous, conflicted, and volatile nature of seventeenth-century New E nglish writing directed against the inhabitants of I reland (p. 154). W hile the evolution of E nglish thinking toward the I rish receives investigation, corresponding E nglish actions, violent and bloody, are not equally emphasized. The essay by co-editor Philip Beidler provides a broad survey of American (read: United States of America) views toward early modern Islam, argu ing that Americans found both Muslims and their religion simultaneously exotic and repelling. Beidler suggests that with the most recent immigration of Muslims into the United States, combined with the increasing amount of media images of them, we still dont know who they are (p. 182), which leads to the same sort of racialized thinking that many of the earlier essays discuss as having occurred toward Africans (and to the Irish and Native Americans). Here, Beidler nicely connects the medieval to the modern of the volumes title, though the ease with which he locates the use of racial
299 BOOK REVIEW S constructions purely in the west (p. 183) seemingly omits the long history of Islamic slavery and anti-Black-African stereotypes that both preceded and continued past the era of the Atlantic slave trade. Gordon Sayres essay on colonial theories of the origins of native American peoples deftly analyzes the five types of evidence that were and are used in debates about Native American origins, and then five major types of theories built upon that evidence (p. 55). E qually fascinating is Benjamin Braudes piece on the transition of the story of Noah and the sons of Ham from a vehicle for Jew-hatred to a vehicle for Black-hatred, and the link with Michelangelos Nakedness of Noah (p. 79). R egrettably, this book omits the key visual images so important for Braudes argument. His project, which analyzes how the story of Noah and his sons has been visually imagined, before and after the S istine Chapel, brilliantly chronicles the shifting uses of Ham against Jews and then Africans (p. 80). Braude, like S ayre and Beidler, successfully links the medieval to the modern, a worthy goal pursued with vigor by many of the books contributors. Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire FELIX DRIVER & LUCIANA MARTIN S (eds.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. xii + 279 pp. (Paper U S $ 25.00) PETER REDFIELD Department of Anthropology University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill NC 27599-3115, U.S .A. < firstname.lastname@example.org u > The tropics have long defined Europes central horizon for exotic fantas y. This edited volume is aimed at providing a more meticulous scholarly account of how the midsection of the globe entered colonial imagination through moments of art, science, and commerce. To this end it offers a richly detailed and particularistic set of essays, here densely tangled together and there separated enough to reveal patches of open ground. Like any collec tion, the result is far from uniform or even, but in this case aptly conveys the variegated nature of alterity that it seeks to describe. Tropical Visions opens with an introductory overview by the editors. In it they suggest a parallel between tropicality and Orientalism, although cautioning that such conventions of representation were not unidirectiona l,
300 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) but rather produced Europe alongside its others. They note that vision holds a prominent place in the construction of these conventions, and that Alexander von Humbolt played a pivotal role in defining them along a bor derline between art and science. Key concerns thus include the significance of presence and observation, mapping, and the typification of sites and iconic images. Driver and Martins emphasize the regionalism of tropical tropes, following David Arnold in pointing out that landscapes in the Americas and the Caribbean influenced the geographical definition of the tropics to a far greater extent than those of India. Based on this overview, they sort the col lection under three headings: voyages, mappings, and sites. The first section commences with a chapter by Claudio Greppi that focuse s on the importance of direct observation in the production of iconic tropical landscapes. As Greppi notes, even as academic conventions expanded, topo graphic painting found redemption in the service of natural history. From the time of Captain Cook on, an expedition artist was expected to capture, in La Prouses memorable words, everything it is impossible to describe (p. 26). This tradition led to Humboldts effort to capture the physiognomy of nature and the well-illustrated voyage of Charles Darwin. I n the next chapter, Michael Dettelbach explores the Humboldtian moment in greater detail. Humboldt saw his exploration of comparative physiology and anatomy as an investigation into the geographic influence on animate forms. He not only observed, but also experimented, and Dettelbach suggests that Humboldts tropics really entered the world through his cold, drafty laboratories on his home continent and his earlier exploration of the subterranean geography of mines. Humboldts tropi cal project, he proposes, was as much representation of self and sensibility as of surroundings. The third contribution, by the two editors, examines W illiam Burchells collection of tropical nature. A careful observer of tropical exuber ance, Burchell produced an assemblage that did not always fit easily into the theoretical system with which he sought to order it. Just as travelers are not always in control, collections can overwhelm their makers (p. 74). Peter Hulme introduces the section on mappings by comparing descrip tions of Dominica and Tahiti within a broader imaginative construction of tropicality. Noting obvious differences between the two islands, such as the moment of their European discovery, he traces framings that nonethe less united them, such as ethnographies of temperament strung along a line between savage and civilized life. Ultimately, Hulme suggests, the destruc tion wrought by E uropean expansion could be read back into the islands and regions themselves, suffering from what E velyn W augh called the fatal gift of beauty. S tarr Douglas and Felix Driver turn the discussion from literature to entomology to examine the eighteenth-century work of Henry S meathman on termites. Following the Atlantic triangle trade both to W est Africa and the W est Indies, S meathman found in termites both a subject for natural his tory and a model for government, one that he would cite in promoting the
301 BOOK REVIEW S settlement of Sierra Leone. Although that colonial project would take a dif ferent trajectory than in his plan, Douglas and Driver underscore the last ing impact of S meathmans illustrations as iconic representations of tropical nature for entomology. In the third essay of this section, D. Graham Burnett explores the oceanography of Matthew Fontaine Maury. Maury, an autodi dact American naval officer, embarked on a massive effort to collect infor mation about oceanic conditions via logbooks and the aid of international correspondents. W ith this assemblage he created charts for winds and cur rents and even whale habitats, the last proving of value to Herman Melville. Although both Maurys theoretical paradigm and the age of sail would soon be superseded, he left a legacy of improved sailing times and an image of tropical waters as a seething cauldron dividing the oceans from within. David Arnold brings in the theme of sites with a study of Joseph Hookers travels on the I ndian subcontinent. Although formally in the tropics, I ndia was not a part of its dominant representation. Hooker, however, made extensive use of the idea of the tropics in his scientific descriptions, combining close obser vation of plant species with emotional and experiential associations, bringing the subcontinent into its proper conceptual latitude. Leonard Bell contributes an examination of photography in S amoa, comparing pictures of specifically local experiences with those presenting tropical generalities. Noting the stage craft necessary to produce all photographic images at this time, he makes the case for a more complex understanding of colonial representation than simple imposition of ideology. The photographic record suggests a borderland with a range of different projects, some of which are remembered and printed more frequently than others. R od E dmond follows this with a chapter addressing tropical disease, particularly leprosy, and Metropolitan fears of degeneration. Following the nineteenth-century expansion of the term tropics to apply to disease and clothing, Edmond finds both fears and speculations for anteced ents of biological warfare, as well as a deepening sense of incommensurabil ity between tropical and temperate worlds. The book closes with an afterword by Dennis Cosgrove that discusses the concept of tropicality at greater length. Noting that the original tropics were celestial rather than terrestrial markers, he both underscores Humboldts role as a pivota l figure, and reminds readers that the physical world itself also contributes to the general construction of geographic difference. R ecognizing unifying factors such as the movement of sun and earth, he suggests, only brings the diversity that Humboldt emphasized into sharper focus. The volumes coverage may be far from exhaustive, and focused more on the British E mpire than on others. Nonetheless, the case studies provide a welcome wealth of historical specificity to support theoretical claims about the co-construction of both Europe and its colonies. Featuring a number of excellent color plates as well as black-and-white illustrations, the assem blage also offers visual image s of tropicality which, as Douglas and Driver
302 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) remind us, can leave a deeper impact than words. Although the density of detail in Tropical Visions might daunt casual readers, it is hard to imagine a better short collection for scholars interested in these themes. Travel Writing, 1700-1830: An Anthology ELIZA B ETH A. BOHL S & IAN DUNCAN (eds.). O xford: O xford University Press, 2005. xl + 520 pp. (Paper U S $ 17.95) CARL THO MPS ON Centre for Travel W riting S tudies Nottingham Trent University Nottingham NG11 8N S U.K < email@example.com k > Travel writing is often regarded today as a minor, somewhat marginal genre, but across the long eighteenth century, in Britain at least, it dominated the literary marketplace. This was a period of vigorous imperial expansion that also witnessed on the domestic front a boom in tourism, and these two devel opments generated a vast travel literature that took a bewildering variety of forms and modes. I n all its different manifestations travel writing was hugely popular with the reading public. And if in some forms, or for some readers, it was simply a source of entertainment, a repository of curious facts and rousing adventures, there was also a much more serious side to the genre. Travel narratives could be at the cutting edge of both scientific enquiry and aesthetic theory, on the one hand supplying vital data to disciplines such as natural history, geography, and anthropology, and on the other offering new reflections on the nature of the sublime and the picturesque. S imultaneously, they often fed directly into some of the most urgent political, moral, and eco nomic debates of the day. W hether one was concerned to celebrate or lament the modernizing tendencies at work in British society, or to state the moral and economic case for or against the abolition of slavery to cite just two of the burning issues of the age travel writing in the eighteenth century was essential reading, and a key medium for both the dissemination of informa tion and the shaping of opinion. The massive presence of travel writing in British culture in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is conveyed powerfully by Travel Writing, 1700-1830 A substantial volume that brings together almost 80 extracts from some 70 texts, this excellent new anthology amply illustrates through its size
303 BOOK REVIEW S alone the sheer abundance of travel writing in the period. More importantly, the collection also provides a fairly comprehensive survey of the diversity of styles, modes, and agendas embraced by the genre, and the key stages of its development across the period. Most of what one might regard as the land mark texts of the form the narratives of Dampier, Cook, Park, Addison, Gilpin, and the like are represented here, along with many less familiar works. I nevitably, the majority of these accounts are by W hite, privileged males (a reflection of the realities of both travel and publication in this era), but care has also been taken to provide contrasting perspectives: the volume includes 17 accounts by female travelers, for example, and a handful by lowerclass figures such as the ex-slaves O laudah E quiano and Mary Prince, and the seaman John Nicol. Moreover, some judicious selections ensure that read ers do not forget the many unlettered individuals on the move in this period, and the numerous unfortunates who in many cases might be more accurately categorized as displaced persons rather than travelers. Thus Nicol recalls his dealings with the female convicts he helped transport to Australia, while Janet S chaw provides a poignant account of meeting with a group of S cottish emigrants, forced from their homes by the machinations of an unscrupulous landlord. As this suggests, the volume as a whole offers some fascinating jux tapositions that serve collectively to illustrate both the dominant paradigms of eighteenth-century travel writing, yet also the many alternative viewpoints and voices to be found in the genre. Throughout, the editors expert commen tary succeeds admirably in contextualizing this material, demonstrating both why the accounts sampled here mattered so much in their own day, and why they remain relevant to a great variety of current academic debates. The anthologys geographical coverage is not complete. O rganized in the first place by region, and then by topics relevant to each region, there are no sections relating either to the Arctic, S outh America (although the Caribbean section does include John Gabriel Stedmans account of his experiences in S uriname) or more crucially, I ndia. The Caribbean, however, gets a section to itself, as do the regions that arguably most impinge on Caribbeanist concerns: Africa, North America, and Britain itself. The Caribbean material is grouped under the headings of Natural History and Aesthetics (Hans Sloane and James Hakewill), W orking Travellers (Stedman, Olaudah Equiano, and Mary Prince), Planters (W illiam Beckford and Matthew Gregory Lewis), and Ladies (Janet S chaw and Maria Nugent). Here as elsewhere in the vol ume, interesting selections have been made that play off each other in illu minating and thought-provoking ways. Thus the determinedly aestheticizing focus of James Hakewill and W illiam Beckford, their concentration on the picturesque potentialities of Jamaica, seems more obviously an act of wilful blindness, if not outright collusion with planter interests, when juxtaposed with the powerful accounts of the brutal realities of life in a slave-owning culture by Stedman, Equiano, and Prince. Overall, the nine extracts convey
304 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) well the dominant discourses shaping British perceptions of the Caribbean, the tensions and contradictions inherent in those discourses, and the protests sometimes raised against them. Taken as a whole, Travel Writing, 1700-1830 marshals an impressive range of material (much of it out of print, or hard to get hold of for those without access to a good research library), at a reasonable price. Students and researchers from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, and engaged in any number of academic debates, will find it an invaluable introduction to a hugely influential genre, while for any teacher designing a course that features the travel writing of this period, it is an absolute godsend. And even for those already familiar with the material, this well-conceived collection opens up interesting new perspectives and fruitful avenues of enquiry. Twentieth-Century Caribbean Literature: Critical Moments in Anglophone Literary History. ALI S ON DONNELL New York: Routledge, 2006. x + 278 pp. (Paper U S $ 31.00) SUE N GREENE 1010 Bellemore Rd. Baltimore MD 21210, U.S .A.
305 BOOK REVIEW S media of so much of W est I ndian literature and her passion for championing the unsung authors who dont fit the paradigms of dominant theories. Because Donnells distrust of unexamined orthodoxies is coupled with a broad interest in literary contexts, this book is a stunning combination of survey, criticism, and informed reading. Donnell is vitally aware of the con flation of history, literature, and theory, and her discussions are grounded in close attention to both texts and the political and cultural history surrounding them. Influenced by David Scotts use of problem spaces (1999), she struc tures the book around a series of critical moments involving a cluster of issues anti-colonialism, nationalism; migration and diaspora; the centrality of African Caribbean ethnicity; the concept of women as doubly colonised and the marginalisation of sexuality and homosexuality that have influ enced the paradigms of Caribbean literary history (p. 5). Donnell sees the first surge of literary theory appearing in the 1960s and 1970s, during the critical moment of cultural nationalism (p. 7). I t focused on post-1950 literature, produced mainly by male writers who migrated to London. She examines the reasons for this emphasis, including the reluc tance of critics to visit the archives and, more significantly, the concerns voiced by such critics as Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Gordon Rohlehr, and S ylvia W ynter. The reigning view that W est I ndian authors had a duty to their society to focus on the culture and language of the people, particularly those of African descent, as distinct from colonial models, fueled literary criti cism throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Donnell does not question the usefulness of the paradigm, but she does show how its limitations have warped the canon. There were writers who did not fit the cultural nationalism agenda of the period, particularly those who wrote before 1950. By examin ing the works of such figures as J.E.C. McFarlane, Tropica (Mary Adella W olcott), V ivian V irtue, and Una Marson within the context of colonization and empire and illustrating overlaps in both forms and ideologies between them and the literature of cultural nationalism, Donnell draws them into the canon of W est Indian literature. Donnell identifies the second stage of literary theory as black diasporic (p. 7), its seminal text being Paul Gilroys The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993) Just as cultural nationalism theory excluded pre-1950 literature, the Black Atlantic ignored that of writers who stayed in the Caribbean and wrote about it rather than the migratory experience. Donnell goes against the flow of Black Atlantic studies by focusing on writings that contest the seemingly naturalised version of Caribbean identity as always else where, once again pointing to under-researched archives (p. 79), as well to homegrown contemporary literature and criticism that show the importance of geographical location. Counteracting the emphasis on dislocated cultures and flattened identities that neglects island-based works, Donnell examines S amuel S elvons 1955 An Island is a World and Earl Lovelaces 1996 Salt as
306 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) well as the writings of O live S enior, Erna Brodber, and the pre-1950 S cottishJamaican Albinia MacKay, to illustrate that the metropolitan-centered litera ture of the Black diaspora less easily defines W est I ndian literature than that created in the islands, which are themselves both linguistically and culturally global. S he also suggests that by returning the critical gaze to the local and the dweller we can recover the literary connection to forms of resistance and agency that seek to secure the pathways between social justice, cultural rec ognition and the writings/rightings of history (p. 127). Donnell describes the widely accepted notion that W est Indian womens literature began with Merle Hodges Crick Crack Monkey published in 1970, as the second mythological boom in W est Indian literary history, the first being the perception that W est Indian literature began in 1950. While the male-oriented Black Atlantic criticism was flourishing, feminist criticism emerged and, not surprisingly, followed in its wake, focusing on the Black female migratory experience of W est Indian writers and their characters. As with its model, Donnell says, this feminist paradigm was exclusive, neglect ing the works of Indian-Caribbean and Creole, as well as pre-1970, writers, one of whom, Una Marson, she discusses in some detail. Donnells survey of Black feminist criticism leads her to critiques of the use of African-American feminist theory to describe Caribbean literature, challenged by the local ized studies of Evelyn OCallaghan and Carolyn Cooper, and of the nega tive term double colonization. She proposes instead the espionage term double agent to describe how writers mobilise gender, as well as ethnic ity and cultural identity, as a site of resistance and affirmation (p. 138). Donnell further tries to rectify the limitations of Black feminist theory with an extended discussion of the Indian-Caribbean writers Narmala Shewcharan and Ramabai Espinet and the indigenous poetics of matikor and dougla pro posed by Rosanne K anhai and S halini Puri. The study concludes with a look at the critical moment now emerging, in which we see the articulation and inscription of diverse sexual identi ties that question the dominant matrix of race, ethnicity, gender, class and nation through which Caribbean literary forms and cultural identities (p. 181) are commonly viewed. Donnell suggests that most of the literature up to the 1990s, much of which focused on childhood and adolescence, was silent about sexuality. More recent works, however, have treated a variety of sexual experiences, including mixed-race unions (as in Clem Maharajs The Dispossessed 1992 ); intense violence (as in Edwidge Danticats Breath, Eyes, Memory 1994 ); and what Evelyn OCallaghan sees as a pervasive absence of joy in sexual encounters (as in Jamaica Kincaids Lucy 1991 ). Observing that freedom struggles and rights movements have been the political foundation of postcolonial studies from its very beginnings (p. 202), Donnell argues that recent literature has provided a variety of rele vant sex-related topics, including same-sex unions, AIDS, and transgender
307 BOOK REVIEW S experience. She examines the social context for this literature, particularly the laws enacted following the Buju Banton battyman affair in Jamaica, and provides detailed discussions of the works of several authors, including Dionne Brand, Lawrence S cott, Patricia Powell, and S hani Mootoo. Both in the works Donnell discusses and in this study, we see the com plexities involved in forging standards of literary theory and criticism. W ith a work as wide-ranging as this, there are bound to be readers who ques tion the selections under discussion or the use or definitions of the critical moments. The emphasis on Jamaican as well as womens literature may seem in itself exclusive. More troublesome is the narrowness of Donnells definition of postcolonial literature, exemplified in her criticism of Jamaica Kincaids My Brother (1997) for its lack of interest in the ethics of sexual ity (p. 228). But such caveats are more than offset by the introduction of new subjects in both theory and literature, by the careful and often innovative reading of texts, and by the intelligence of the discussion. REFERENCE S DANTICAT, EDWIDGE, 1994. Breath, Eyes, Memory London: Abacus. GILROY, PAUL, 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness London: V erso. HODGE, MERLE 1970. Crick Crack Monkey London: Andre Deutsch. KINCAID, JA M AICA 1997. My Brother New York: Noonday Press. , 1991. Lucy London: Jonathan Cape. LOVELACE, EARL 1996. Salt London: Faber and Faber. MAHARA J, CLE M 1992. The Dispossessed O xford: Heinemann Educational Books. SCOTT, DAVID, 1999. Refashioning Futures: Criticism after Postcoloniality Princeton: Princeton University Press. SELVON, SA M UEL 1955. An Island is a World London: Allan W ingate.
308 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Cannibal Modernities: Postcoloniality and the Avant-garde in Caribbean and Brazilian Literature LU S MADUREIRA Charlottesville: University of V irginia Press, 2005. x + 255 pp. (Cloth U S $ 55.00) LCIA S Department of S panish, Portuguese, and Latin American S tudies University of Manchester Manchester M13 9PL, U.K < firstname.lastname@example.org k > Cannibal Modernities brings together two cultural traditions which, consider ing how much they have in common, know surprisingly little about each other those of the Caribbean and Brazil. Using an impressive theoretical frame work, Madureira offers a careful and well-crafted analysis of twentieth-century avant-garde movements in both regions. The overall question that pervades his analysis is the Derridean conundrum of whether it is possible for writers and artists from countries with a colonial past to criticize the W est without becom ing themselves part of its grand narrative of progress and E nlightenment. He concludes that it is possible, or at least, that it was possible for some modernist writers, among them C.L. R James, Aim Csaire, O swald de Andrade, and Alejo Carpentier, to change, from the margins, the overall meaning of European modernity. In his words, these marginal repetitions of the signs of modernity and modernism affect a fundamental rethinking and reformulation of the mod ern (p. 215). Cannibal Modernities proposes, then, the same inversion formu lated in the works it studies: instead of accepting the common assumption that Caribbean and Latin American modernisms are nothing less than derivations of European movements, it proclaims that European modernity itself has been partly shaped by its encounters with the Americas. To arrive at such a conclusion, Madureira engages in dense theoretical discussions. He accepts the Jamesonian proposition that it is necessary to articulate the local and the global, but sees as equally fundamental the post colonial interrogation of the (epistemic) violence associated with such totaliz ing (critical) projects (p. 11). This subscription to postcolonial theories does not keep him from criticizing Homi Bhabha, however, for under-theorizing the modes of articulation between the rhetorical and the political (p. 11). It is Paul Gilroys Black Atlantic (1993), and indeed Derridas Writing and Difference (1980), that nonetheless seem to provide Cannibal Modernities with its most important theoretical insight, which is that marginal critiques of modernity are necessarily located both inside and outside the very enlight enment tradition whose operational principles they seek simultaneously to put into question (p. 28).
309 BOOK REVIEW S Madureiras theoretical ponderings are carried through in his close anal yses of several primary works. Chaper 1, Lapses in Taste: Antropofagia as the Primitive Aesthetic of Underdeveloped Brazil, takes a thorough look at Antropofagia focusing not only on the foundational Manifesto Antropfago but also on Oswald de Andrades later developments of his own theories. In the Land of the Great Serpent: The Poetics of National Development and the Sublime Topography of the Amazon is dedicated to Raul Bopps long poem Cobra Norato Instead of seeing the poem as the quintessentially antropfago text (as most critics do), Madureira compares it, quite convincingly, to an exemplary work from the nationalist wing of the So Paulo avant-garde, Cassiano Ricardos Martim Cerer Chapter 3, God in the Machine: Primitivism, National Identity, and the Question of Technology in Mrio de Andrades Macunama , is a study of Mrio de Andrades seminal novel. Once again, Madureira diverges from most read ings of Macunama which tend to see it as an allegory of Brazil and its three formative races (Indian, European, and African). In Cannibal Modernities the novel is defined by the discontinuity between the people ( a gente ) represented in the protagonist epithet (hero of our people), and the peo ple that have been silenced by the genocide of European invasion, and in whose name the narrator claims to speak at the end of the novel. Chapter 4, Cannibal Allegories: Cinema Novo and the Myth of Popular Cinema, analyzes two films: Joaquim Pedro de Andrades Macunama and Nelson Pereira dos S antoss Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francs (How Tasty was My Little Frenchman). The fifth chapter, The S hadow Cast by the E nlightment: The Haitian Revolution and the Naming of Modernitys Other, focuses on C.L.R. Jamess The Black Jacobins and Aim Csaires Toussaint Louverture and Cahier dun retour au pays natal (Notebook of a return to my native land) Their views of the Haitian Revolution are read under the theoreti cal light of Frantz Fanon and douard Glissant. Madureira emphasizes Jamess and Csaires revision of Hegels unidirectional (and racist) defini tion of History. He chooses neither to accept nor to dismiss the question of whether these authors are not ultimately making what could be described as a Hegelian critique. I nstead he affirms, with Gilroy and Derrida, that Jamess and Csaires views of History, like Oswald de Andrades Antropofagia are written from both within and without the Hegelian system. Chapter 6, The Marvelous Royalty of Henri Christophes Kingdom: Cultural Difference and the Temporality of Underdevelopment, compares the figure of Henri [Henry] Christophe in Aim Csaires La tragdie du roi Christophe (The tragedy of King Christophe) and Alejo Carpentiers El reino de este mundo (The kingdom of this world). I n different ways, both authors use Christophe as a denunciation of Europes problematic claim to modernity. The last chap ter, Something New in a Decaying W orld: Alejo Carpentiers El siglo de las luces or, The Signs of Progress on the Margins of History, analyzes
310 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) how Carpentiers El siglo de las luces (Explosion in the cathedral) exposes the incompatibility between the discourses of the French Revolution and the struggles for liberation that the narrative of History tends to transcribe in minor key (p. 212). Cannibal Modernities is an illuminating study, not only for scholars spe cializing on the Caribbean or Brazil. Its theoretical breadth and sensitive close readings will appeal to anyone interested in the way avant-garde move ments developed under Europes shadow, and the idea that their power to affect E uropes own modernity may be greater than most traditional cultural histories have been willing to admit. REFERENCE S DERRIDA, JACQUE S, 1980. Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [O rig. 1967.] GILROY, PAUL, 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Puerto Rican Nation-Building Literature: Impossible Romance. ZILKIA JANER. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005. xiv + 119 pp. (Cloth U S $ 59.95) JO SS IANNA ARROYO 10213 Brantley Bend Austin TX 78748, U.S .A.
311 BOOK REVIEW S of romantic love are used to articulate the relationship between different groups in the nation (p. 7). For Janer, this impossibility relies on the ways colonial relations have shaped the political history of the island. She coins the term colonial nationalism to define the historical particularities of Puerto Rican nationalism, and the continuous negotiations, mediations, and transactions of the political and intellectual elites, first under Spanish domi nation and secondly after 1898, when Puerto R ico became part of the United States. Framed in the theoretical discussions of history and class from the S ubaltern S tudies Group in I ndia and Latin America, and views of discourses of race, gender, and sexuality from postcolonial studies, the book depicts Puerto Rican colonial nationalism as an ally of United States colonialism and hemispheric hegemony (p. 10), while it describes clearly the contradic tions of Creole and working-class subaltern intellectuals in their struggles for representation and hegemony. In the introduction Janer defines her theoretical framework, emphasiz ing the ways colonialism has shaped Puerto Rican literary production as a type of battlefield for representation. Her analysis, which is organized around her definition of subaltern intellectuals as mediating figures, hege monic within their working-class group and subaltern when seen vis-vis Creole intellectuals, covers works by Puerto Rican working-class men and women, as well as Creole men and women in the period 1849-1930. One of the main contributions of this book is the way it puts together Creole canoni cal authors of Puerto Rican literature and culture, such as Manuel Alonso, Manuel Zeno Ganda, Antonio S Pedreira, S alvador Brau, Luis Pals Matos, V icente Gigel Polanco, R en Marqus, Pedro Juan S oto, E nrique Laguerre, Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo, Ana Roqu, and Mara Cadilla de Martnez with non-canonical women writers and working-class intellectuals such as Mercedes Sol, Carmen Polo Tafor, Ramn Romero Rosa, Jos E. Levs, Magdaleno Gonzlez, Arturo Ms Miranda, and Luisa Capetillo. Chapter 1, Colonization as Seduction, focuses on the work of Manuel Zeno Ganda and Manuel Alonso (El Gbaro) and their paternalistic represen tations of the jbaro or peasant population. One of the key elements here is Janers analysis of the complexities of Zeno Gandas novels, going beyond his canonical work La charca (The Pond) to his other novels, El negocio, Gardua and Redentores Chapter 2, Creating a National W omanhood, focuses on the writings of Creole women, mainly the ways these writers raised their voices in defense of womens education and right to vote. As Janer concludes from the work of these writers, Creole White women, want ing to be modern without losing their femininity, claimed and constructed the feminine as the center, not only of the great Puerto Rican family but also of Puerto Rican national culture. Chapter 3, R ape in the Family, focuses on dramatic dialogues and labor press articles written by working-class intellectuals. Here we see how these
312 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) intellectuals negotiated race and gender tensions in the Puerto Rican labor movement and how they represented themselves vis--vis Creole intellec tual discourses. This chapter, which includes a brief history of the relation ship between the United States and the labor movement in Puerto Rico, is to my view, the best of the book. Chapter 4, The Failed Bildungsroman, concludes with the raising of Populism and the political foundation of the E LA in the late 1930s and the 1940s. As Janer makes clear, there is a type of consensus shaped by social unrest and political repression of anticolonial parties in the 1950s (PIP, Nationalist Party). She concludes with reflections on how colonial nationalism opened and closed political perspectives on the women and labor movement in Puerto Rico, and a critique of contempo rary discourses of nationalism and globalization in Puerto Rico. While she includes the theme of migration and the diaspora in her literary analysis she does not engage completely with the complex transnational perspectives that have shaped Puerto Rican nationalism since the nineteenth century. The book is enhanced by the inclusion of archives and voices of the Puerto Rican labor movement, particularly their dramatic dialogues and narratives. One regrets, however that Janer did not make use of the abundant bibliog raphy of Puerto Rican literary and cultural studies published in the last ten years. Canonical essays in Puerto Rican Studies such as Literatura y pater nalismo en Puerto Rico by Juan Gelp or the anthology Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity could have given her other critical perspec tives on the relationship between sexuality and the colonial body, and the transnational-diasporic dimensions of the labor movement in Puerto Rico. REFERENCE S FLORE S, JUAN, 1993. Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity. Houston TX: Arte Pblico Press. GEL P JUAN, 1993. Literatura y paternalismo en Puerto Rico. S an Juan: Universidad de Puerto Rico.
313 BOOK REVIEW S Beyond Sun and Sand: Caribbean Environmentalisms SHERRIE L BAVER & BAR B ARA DEUT S CH LYNCH (eds.). New Brunswick NJ: R utgers University Press, 2006. viii + 210 pp. (Paper U S $ 26.95) RIVKE JAFFE Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development S ociology Leiden University 2300 RB Leiden, the Netherlands
314 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) able tourism, pointing out how the nature of the Martiniquan tourist industry invites the merging of environmental and political struggles. The third part, Behind the Beach: Productive Landscapes and Environmental Change, examines issues related to developments beyond tourism. Neftali Garca, Mara Muoz V azquez, Norma Delgado, Tania Garcia R amos, and S ara Peisch give a clear economic and environmental overview of Puerto Rico, focusing on environmental issues associated with the islands unregu lated urban expansion and the transition from agriculture to industry to ser vices. Barbara Deutsch Lynch compares Cuban and Dominican paths toward agricultural sustainability, discussing the impact of national policies, cultural obstacles, weak positions in the global economy, land-use changes, and tech nological paradigms. Katherine T. McCaffrey and Sherrie Baver analyze mobilization and coalition-building against U.S. military operations on the Puerto Rican island of V ieques. The struggle, initially framed in politically contentious terms of sovereignty, gained victory after framing the issue in terms of environment, health, and human rights. The volumes final section, R isky E nvironments and the Caribbean Diaspora is innovative in its inclusion of diasporic Caribbean environmen talism, though transnational connections are underemphasized. Ricardo SotoLopez discusses aspects of the Puerto R ican environmental justice movement in the United S tates, describing success stories, advocating proactive rather than reactive strategies, and proposing a framework for community involve ment in land-use decision making. I mmanuel Ness and Lorraine Minnite exam ine exposure to environmental health risks in a Latino neighborhood in New York, studying links between levels of medical awareness and social capital. I n the volumes conclusion, Toward a Creole E nvironmentalism, Barbara Deutsch Lynch provides an intelligent take on issues relevant to island resi dents and contextual factors of fragility, diversity, and a peripheral role in the global political economy. It reframes the diversity of the environmental move ment and suggests possibilities for a Creole environmentalism. This book is a welcome addition to the growing field of Caribbean envi ronmental studies. The political ecology approach and the incorporation of diasporic communities are refreshing additions and many of the articles are informative and well written. Highlights include the introduction and conclu sion, the comparative contribution on Cuban and Dominican agriculture, and the analyses of the V ieques protests and Nuyorican environmental justice struggle. However, a number of articles appear to be rather dated, using mainly or exclusively references that are over a decade old. And while this volume presents a satisfying variety of topics and authors, its regional case studies have a strong Hispanic Caribbean bias. The eight case studies include six on Latino islands or communities, of which five are on Puerto Rico or Puerto Rican diasporic communities. The remaining two cases discuss issues in
315 BOOK REVIEW S Jamaica and Martinique. No mention is made of the Dutch Caribbean, other than an incorrect reference to Aruba as an oil-producing nation. Finally, the volumes depiction of the environmental movement is largely uncritical. O ne of the contributors characterizes the Puerto Rican environmental movement as engaged in an ongoing process of empowering members of communities, groups and institutions to confront the state. Given the elite status of many environmental activists, the classed nature of environmental problems, and the cooperation between governmental and nongovernmental organizations, all referred to in this volume, this would seem to be an overly upbeat take on the matter. The presentation of the volume as subaltern perspectives on the etiology of environmental degradation also seems somewhat overstated. Not every environmentalist is a subaltern hero; the small island societies under study here deserve a more nuanced analysis than the simple opposition of environmental movement versus the state and global capital posited in a number of the chapters. Overall, the volume contains a wealth of factual information and a num ber of novel approaches, worthwhile to anyone interested in the Caribbean environment. REFERENCE JCO M E, FRANCINE, 1996. Environmental Movements in the Caribbean. 21st Century Policy Review 3(1/2):277-98. Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance. JOYCE MOORE TURNER, with the assistance of W. BURGHARDT TURNER Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005. xxii + 291 pp. (Paper U S $ 25.00) GERT OO S TINDIE KITL V /Royal Netherlands Institute of S outheast Asian and Caribbean S tudies 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands
316 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Thus wrote Roi Ottley, in New World AComing 1943 (quoted in Kasinitz 1992:47). W hile at the time W est I ndian activities in New York may have been regarded with a touch of cynicism or even irritation, contemporary recollec tions and scholarly reconstructions of the early twentieth-century W est I ndian presence in New York are marked by nostalgia and admiration. Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance is no exception. In this vividly writ ten book, Joyce Moore Turner focuses on a small group of Caribbean migrants who not only made a life for themselves in the Big Apple, but also stand out for their political struggles. Theirs was a fight both against W hite racism and for socialism, or communism. They thought the U. S Communist Party would be the best instrument to accomplish these objectives at the end of the book one is left with the impression that they themselves were instruments instead, used and abused both by their national comrades and Moscow. The number of protagonists in the book is not altogether clear. Turner at times writes about a revolutionary trio consisting of the S uriname-born O tto Huiswoud (1893-1961), the authors Barbadian father Richard Benjamin Moore (1893-1978), and the S t. K ittian Cyrill Briggs (1888-1966). Frequently the Jamaican W ilfred Adolfus Domingo (1889-1968) is added to this set of characters. And there is the Guyanese Hermine Dumont (1905-1998), who became Huiswouds wife and sister-in-arms and outlived her husband for nearly four decades to tell some of the stories detailed in this book. The lives of these Caribbean characters are painted on a larger canvas where a long series of W est Indian militants and intellectuals from Marcus Garvey and Claude McKay to Langston Hughes and George Padmore play auxiliary roles. The setting is first Harlem, but later in the book widens to include not just other parts of the United States, but also the Soviet Union, various W est-European countries, and briefly the Caribbean. While Turner discusses the broader cultural context and impact of the Harlem Renaissance, her emphasis is on its political significance and on the pivotal role played by Caribbean migrants who by 1930 formed one-quar ter of Harlems population. She agrees with previous scholars and with Franklin W Knight, who wrote a laudatory introduction to the book who explained this Caribbean preponderance by referring to the fact that these new African Americans were less disposed to accept the racism they encoun tered in the United States and at the same time better equipped to fight it. Originating mainly from the W est Indies, they came from societies which, though utterly colonial, had provided their populations with better educa tion. Moreover, racial self-esteem was higher, as people of African descent formed great majorities in these societies, while racism was more subdued and vibrant traditions of resistance to slavery were not forgotten. The real protagonist of Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance is however not a British W est Indian, but the Surinamese Otto Huiswoud.
317 BOOK REVIEW S Born into what was apparently a (lower) middle-class family of mixed ori gins, Otto was one of several brothers who emigrated at an early age. In 1910, just sixteen, he set foot in New York. He soon forgot about the initial idea of further education in the Netherlands, settled, started working, and became a political activist. I n 1919, he was the sole African American charter member present at the founding of the Communist Party. Huiswouds founding membership and his particular engagement with, and expertise on, the Negro question elevated him to the status of an inter national militant within the Communist I nternational, working in the Soviet Union, W estern Europe, and even S outh Africa. He was also confronted with the racism and opportunistic neglect of the race problem within American Communist circles, and with the cynical machinations of the S oviets. Most of this book details the incessant discussions and political infight ing over the proper insertion of the American Negro question in the wider Communist debates on class struggle and nationalism in the United States and on Communism worldwide. Those interested in these debates will find a good deal of information in this book. Bearing in mind the marginal impor tance of Communism in the United States and the poor record over the past century of Communism worldwide when it comes to combating racism, I found the painstaking rendering of these debates at times superfluous. On the other hand, Turner does present a colorful and at times moving picture of these militants who had much reason at the time to feel no bourgeois support would ever be forthcoming to wipe away racism and exploitation, and who therefore hoped for a better future by choosing the Communist alternative. Huiswoud himself was nicknamed the S phinx. Unfortunately, he too remains an enigmatic figure throughout this book. Turner made good friends with his wife, Hermine Huiswoud Dumont. Apparently the many conversations she had with the somewhat paranoid Hermine were of little help in unraveling the mysteries of the S phinx. Thus, what the book offers is a great deal of infor mation on ideological and organizational issues that may be of interest for spe cialists, but not really a biography sketching a lively image of this remarkable man or, for that matter, his wife. I n this context, too, it is odd that Turner did not consult the doctoral thesis on Huiswoud by Maria van Enckevort, defended in 2000. But then again, that thesis also failed to make the Sphinx a man of flesh and blood. The last chapter, Home to Amsterdam, is disappointing. I t offers some wellarticulated reflections on the pre-war story, but little of what came after. In just a few pages we learn what happened after the Huiswouds last stints in the Soviet Union and W estern Europe in the 1930s. Otto fell ill, went to Suriname in 1941, and was interned there for some time during the war. Hermine lived in the United States, and they were not reunited until 1946. Rather than returning to the United S tates, they settled in Amsterdam, where O tto took a modest office job.
318 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Why didnt Hermine come to Suriname earlier? Why did they decide to settle in Surinames colonial metropolis rather than returning to New York? Why didnt they join the ranks of the Dutch Communist Party? How pre cisely did O tto become the organizer of the still tiny S urinamese community in Holland? Turner offers no answers and even ignores the available studies on this period which provide much more information than she gives. This is the more remarkable as it was precisely in this period that Otto paved the way for the S urinamese nationalist movement which eventually obtained independence in 1975. But I hasten to add that the previous chapters offer a good deal of information and many acute observations above all on the political context of the Harlem Renaissance. REFERENCE S ENCKEVORT, MARIA, 2000. The Life and Times of Otto Huiswoud: Professional Revolutionary and Internationalist (1893-1961). Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of History, University of the W est Indies, Mona, Jamaica. KA S INITZ, PHILI P, 1992. Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press. Constructing Black Selves: Caribbean American Narratives and the Second Generation LI S A D MCGILL. New York: New York University Press, 2005. x + 318 pp. (Cloth U S $ 50.00) MARY CHA MB ERLAIN Department of History S chool of Arts and Humanities, O xford Brookes University O xford O X3 0BP, U. K < email@example.com k > In the American migration story, second-generation migran ts were en route to becoming American, acting as brokers and translators to their parents but absorbing also the ethos, languages, and attitudes that marked them (and subsequently their children) as indelibly American. This motif, which had its origins in early studies of European migrants, was considered to be appli cable to all migrant groups. Despite Ira Reids The Negro Immigrant: His Background, Characteristics and Social Adjustment 1899-1937 (1939),
319 BOOK REVIEW S which pointed to different experiences and processes for Black immigrants, it is only in the last two decades or so that scholars such as Linda Basch, Nina Glick Schiller, Georges Fouron, and Mary W aters have challenged the universal applicability of this migration model and, in particular, have indi cated that for Black migrants to the United States, assimilation was never straightforward, and never into the mainstream of American society. Rather (as Reid first identified), for first-generation Caribbeans it involved a care ful and often painful renegotiation of identity and Blackness and a tension between the desire to be part of America and to avoid being subsumed by and into African America. As a result, for many British W est Indians, par ticularly in the first three decades of the twentieth century, emigration to the United States was accompanied by the espousal of an island, regional, or even British identity. Migrants from the Hispanic Caribbean had an equally complex relationship with the United States, compounded in their case by their Hispanic or Latino heritage. I t is a story replicated by their children. Thus this book is a welcome addition to the new scholarship on Caribbean migration and in particular to the burgeoning interest in second-genera tion Caribbeans in America. This time, however, the focus is on the artis tic expression of second-generation Caribbeans. Contextualizing their art as both an encounter and an engagement with the racial binaries of America and the complex politics of African America in the fifty years after the W orld W ar II, McGill asks: how have these second generationers constructed a Black self? The answer is that they have done so through a continuing engagement with the Caribbean, predicated for the most part on a dialectic between political convictions and political context. Harry Belafonte, poised at the start of the civil rights movement, and active within it, played into a particular Caribbean persona, representing the face of the safe Black man, while simultaneously charging it with all the ambivalence and danger of miscegenation. Paule Marshall, active in left-wing and Black politics, and Audre Lorde, committed feminist and lesbian, engaged with their multiple personae through an emphasis on the diasporic element of their heritages. For Marshall, this involved a journey back to a shared and celebrated African heritage (exemplified by Avey in Praisesong for the Widow ). For Audre Lord, the struggle for lesbian as well as Black identity led her into conflict with the mainstream of Black politics, as well as her family heritages. R esolution was found through an emphasis in her poetry on sisterhood and sexual empathy in African societies, and through the engagement of the Black goddess Afrekete who connects and empowers multiple and seemingly irreconciliable com munities (p. 149). Puerto Rican Piri Thomas reveals the complex world of Black Latino identities. His resolution is through a continuing espousal of both an African and a Puerto R ican identity. Finally, McGills examination of the merengue hip-hop of Proyecto Uno takes us into the more contemporary complex urban milieu of second-generation Dominicanos and their fusion
320 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) of Dominicano merengue music and American hip-hop (itself heavily influ enced by the British W est I ndies) through which they negotiate and articulate their ideological and racial battles with America. The argument is convincing: there can be no one-size-fits-all set of assumptions on the responses and behavior of second-generation Caribbeans in the United States. Instead, they have responded to the respective particu larities of their island heritages and their encounters with the United States in very different ways and through very different processes, emerging not as fully assimilated Americans, nor as unreconstructed islanders, but with a multifaceted Caribbean-American persona. Rich though McGills analysis and contextualization of the chosen art ists is, I have two points of criticism. While Belafonte and Proyecto Uno provide the bookends of the argument, located in the 1950s and the 1990s, and while the contemporary U.S. contexts are well delineated, there is noth ing that indicates the distance traveled by these performers and writers, or by African America. Nor is there discussion of the way different time frames condition and permit some responses and not others. In other words, while McGill is careful to point out the processes of identity making, she omits attention to the fact that the historical process itself plays a part in those identities and in migrant responses to (as well as by) America. In a related spirit, while the Black struggle in America and in the African colonies is acknowledged as a vital influence in the Civil Rights and Black Power move ments, there is nothing on the struggles for nationhood or nationalisms in the Caribbean itself or the ways those may have impacted on the conscious ness of Caribbeans abroad, be they Puerto Ricans, Dominicanos, or British W est Indians. Fifty years is a long time in a nations gestalt, and given how powerful the Caribbean has remained across generations of its migrant com munities, some examination of Caribbean nationhood could have enriched the profiles and enhanced our understanding of Caribbean engagement with the Americas. REFERENCE REID, IRA DE AUGU S TINE, 1939. The Negro Immigrant: His Background, Characteristics and Social Adjustment 1899-1937. New York: Columbia University/London: K ing.
321 BOOK REVIEW S Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba. MARK Q SAWYER New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. xxii + 200 pp. (Paper U S $ 21.99) ALE J ANDRA BRONF M AN Department of History University of British Columbia V ancouver BC, V 6T 1Z1, Canada
322 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) are considered part of the nation and part of the revolutionary project even as they are relegated to second-class status. The explanation he offers for this is one of racial cycles, whereby political circumstances can either pave the way toward greater equality or close down any available opportunities and foster inequalities in the workplace or in social or political life. To make this argument, S awyer draws on interviews and surveys that he conducted in Cuba. O ne body of material consists of forty-four interviews with Cubans in 1997-1998 in which he spoke with people from all over the island about their thoughts and experiences with race and discrimination. He found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that Cubans who consider themselves Black or Mulatto experience a measure of discrimination in their daily lives, and that this was exacerbated by the economic crisis and subsequent reforms known as the special period. S awyer has gone to great lengths to protect both himself and his sources, claiming that discussions of race continue to threaten the regime and as such are potentially subject to censure. Yet the result of his cau tion is that he seems to understand his results as relatively transparent, hesitat ing to challenge his informants even on factual issues. W hen one interviewee misremembers the Havana riots in the summer of 1994 as having taken place in 1993, for example, S awyer fails to use that as an opportunity to reflect on the nature of memory and knowledge production. Another chapter, based on primary material, uses surveys conducted in 2000-2001. These demonstrate, he argues, that race continues to be a salient category with regard to social, economic, and political life in Cuba. Yet these findings remain on superficial grounds. W hen he observes, for instance, that Blacks are more likely than Whites to join all-Black organizations, one won ders about the nature of Black organizations to which he was referring, about the subtext of that question, and about the way Cubans would have reacted to being asked that question. I ndeed, one of the most intriguing things about this chapter, which remains unexplored, is the very process of the survey itself. He points out that this is only the second survey in forty years to be conducted by a North American researcher. Yet he does not discuss the process of convinc ing Cubans to participate or explaining its purpose to them, or mention which questions they found more puzzling than others. The remainder of the book aims to place these findings in context with a historical overview of racial formations in Cuba. S awyer synthesizes material on twentieth-century racial politics, including as well some material on U. S Black activists relationships to Cuba. Unfortunately, Sawyer leaves out key factors, such as the Constitution of 1940, which banned racial discrimination. S cholars have pointed to this moment not as a turning point after which racial equality was attained, but rather as an indicator of the complexity of a society engaged in racialized mobilization and cooptation. Most puzzling of all however, is the intended audience of this book. Its academic prose and engagement with the academic literature suggest that it
323 BOOK REVIEW S was not intended for a general audience. At the same time, it falls short as a scholarly monograph, with very few footnotes and limited primary research. Yet this book might be useful for all readers, confirming as it does that race in Cuba has been, and remains, a complicated and important matter. Contemporary Caribbean Cultures and Societies in a Global Context FRANKLIN W KNIGHT & TERE S ITA MARTNEZ-VERGNE (eds.). Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. viii + 303 pp. (Paper U S $ 21.95) R. CHARLE S PRICE Anthropology Department University of North Carolina Chapel Hill NC 27599, U.S .A.
324 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) policies reflect the W ashington Consensus. The W ashington Consensus, he argues, promotes neoliberal reform and rewards good governance, which leads to low or no tariffs, deregulated markets, and minimal public subsidy. President Aristide, for example, and his early populist efforts, were not seen as good governance, while export assembly was. E xport-related policies such as tax holidays worked against Haitis development (although enriching some elites in Haiti and the United States). Thus, Caribbean societies must be mind ful of the consequences of violating the W ashington Consensus. In the second section (diasporas in a global world), Antonio Bentez-Rojo superbly illustrates the historical complexities of globalization (and creoliza tion) in Cuba without recourse to dense abstraction, showing how, for example, Cubas developmental trajectory created situations that facilitated the blending of different musical genres across centuries. Frances Negrn-Muntaner uses the idiom of showing face to discuss national identity in Puerto Rico, point ing out that Puerto R icans address identity, status, and politics through the achievements (or failures) of their prominent sons and daughters, and box ers have a key role in assessing the national self. The essay, while interest ing, has perplexing moments, such as the assertion that pop stars are sites at which shamed subjects negotiate ambivalent effects of national visibility and transnational desire (p. 98). Juan Floress chapter contests the assumption that cultural baggage moves primarily in one direction, asking what about the cultural baggage that goes the other way? (p. 118). Using salsa and rap music, Flores addresses the way the experience of the diaspora lodges itself in Caribbean homelands like Puerto Rico. Raquel Romberg then discusses how the Afro-Latin phenomenon of brujera combined elements of several religious traditions into an adaptive complex. Today, she points out, it is enjoy ing valorization during an era of celebration of Puerto Rican indigeneity and, far from being threatened by globalization, has flourished. V alentina Peguero contributes the first essay in S ection 3 (global force s in local politics), looking at womens grassroots organizations in the Dominican R epublic and their fundamental but neglected role in Dominican society, where it has often been national and international events that pro pel women to organize in support of families, communities, and the nation. Pegueros leaders are elite women, and little is said about other kinds of womens associations that exist in the Dominican R epublic. Aline Helg then treats race and politics in Cuba, depicting Cubas racial history as an ongoing struggle between W hites seeking to maintain hegemony and Blacks seeking empowerment. This played out to the refrain that there is racial equality in Cuba. Helg suggests that Fidel Castros revolution tackled White racism indirectly rather than head on, and that Black disempowerment persists dur ing the nations special period. Section 4 (global markets for local politics ) opens with Jorge Giovan nett is essay on the global presence of reggae music, focusing on
325 BOOK REVIEW S its intersection with Jamaican politics and the appeal of its sociopolitical commentary to people outside Jamaica. S urprisingly, little is said about how reggae reaches the global marketplace. Giovannetti emphasizes conscious reggae, neglecting other permutations lovers rock, nonsensical rhymes, and slackness. This elides the fact that in places such as the United S tates, reg gae is more associated with fun than with social commentary. The concluding chapter, by Anthony Maingot, is a revealing account of globalization through a history of rum. Maingot gets at the complexities and absurdities of global ization without a drop of abstract theory, showing how rum quickly became an integral element of global trade and colonial consumption the brand of families, corporations, and nations. However, globalizing processes drew it into political intrigue and post-W orld W ar II corporate mergers and acquisi tions. Today, rums point of production and original name brand no longer tell consumers exactly what they are getting, and from where, since the best rum in the world is as likely to hail from Australia or Guatemala as from Puerto Rico, Cuba, or Barbados. The articles in Contemporary Caribbean Cultures and Societies in a Global Context all interesting, demonstrate the Caribbeans richness as a laboratory for the study of the cultural, social, and politico-economic dimen sions of globalization and manage to get at complexity without unnecessary conceptual abstraction. Taken together, they offer many ways to approach contemporary globalization, especially as it is experienced by insular societ ies with limited natural resources. Sugar, Slavery, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico LUI S A. FIGUEROA. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. 304 pp. (Paper U S $ 19.95) AS TRID CU B ANO IGUINA Department of History University of Puerto Rico Ro Piedras 00925, Puerto Rico
326 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) from the 1873 law of abolition has only rarely been addressed as a significant problem of inquiry. Figueroa sets out to accomplish a double agenda. He wants to fill the well-known information gap on the whereabouts and conditions of the slaves freed in 1873, based on a detailed study of the southeastern region of Guayama, a leading slave sugar producer in the nineteenth century. And secondly, he aims at recovering the memory of slavery and racism in Puerto Rico. Guayama, as a stronghold of Black Puerto Rican population and cul ture, or what Figueroa refers to as Afro-Caribbean heritage in Puerto Rico on account of perceived similarities to other neighboring Caribbean islands, is ideal for both of his objectives. He attempts a forceful denunciation of the erasure of slavery from Puerto Rican cultural analysis, as seen in a 1972 local chronicle that omitted slavery from the picture in describing the regions nineteenth-century economic foundations. If academic historical narratives are by now fully aware of the importance slavery had for the nineteenthcentury sugar industry, the issue of slavery and the racial oppression this institution fostered has not made its way easily beyond scholarly discussion. Figueroa questions the folkloric portrayals of Blackness that are frequent in studies of Puerto Rican cultural manifestations, and offers an alternative analysis based on historical research. Early in the century the landed elites of the region had forged a project to import much-needed African slaves, controlling the numbers so as to pre serve the balance between the White and the Black population. The region of Guayama turned out to have a particularly high proportion of Blacks and slaves, though the island in general preserved the projected moderation in the number of African slaves. This story of racial and cultural planning, along with reflections on race as a practice of domination, lays the groundwork for Figueroas study of Guayamas slave sugar industry. Guayamas nineteenth-century planters relied heavily on slaves to harvest their sugar cane and process sugar. Figueroa takes us through the twists and turns of the expansion of sugar haciendas, the clandestine introduction of thousands of African slaves, the attempts at technological modernization, and most importantly, the development of Guayamas irrigation system, since this region is the second most arid in the island. Having achieved rela tively high levels of productivity, planters kept their hold on their slaves until the very eve of abolition. This book is particularly valuable for the attention it pays to some of the major debates that surround the study of slavery and abolition. One of these concerns Orlando Pattersons view that slaves lived in a state of complete alienation from society and were deprived of family connections (in strictly formal legal terms, I must add). Figueroa develops an enticing argument about slaves ability to resist such a state of isolation. His evidence is too scanty to support a full rebuttal of Pattersons views because in Guayamas
327 BOOK REVIEW S archival materials, so thoroughly researched by Figueroa, the negotiating power of slaves vis--vis masters, both before and after abolition, is virtu ally invisible. The unavailability of empty land is seen as impeding their independent agricultural activities, with no significant alternative ways to display agency. Manumissions (mostly by self-purchase) were too few, and two-thirds occurred among women, who were far from the majority of the bonded population, nor was their access to an autonomous income source representative of that of the majority. Most likely the information rendered by Guayamas documentary collection is bound to leave the reader (and I suspect, the author as well) wanting to grasp more fully the specific strat egies through which enslaved Afro-Puerto Ricans shaped communities of support. O n the plantations of the northern coastal region in the municipality of Manat, thanks to an exceptionally rich municipal archive, one can see, besides occasional opportunities for economic gain and in spite of cruel pun ishment and restraint, hints of deep family ties, expressions of affection, and desire to care for the ill among slaves. Above all, the specific microscopic incident is crucial for grasping the frequency with which slaves contested the masters power on the eve of abolition, with the strategic support of local colonial authorities who were seeking and at times forging alliances with the recently freed population. This portrayal should cast new light on the supposed declining Spanish colonial regimes inability to construct a new colonial hegemony adapted to the conditions of the postslavery transition to colonial capitalism (pp. 13-14). But Figueroas account focuses on another equally important concern of the postemancipation population: the shared interest of the state and the prop ertied groups in disciplining the labor force. In order to study resistance and protest, he centers on the laborers practice of torching plantations, attack ing the most evident sign of the planters economic power. The incidence of arson registered in Guayama suggests to Figueroa that resident peons (for merly plantation slaves) were by no means passively accepting paternalistic bondage to their former masters, but were participating in more detached vertical life and work relationships (p. 194). This well-written story of Guayamas slavery and postemancipation experience fulfills expectations. It not only enhances our understanding of the regional map of sugar and slavery in nineteenth-century Puerto Rico, but is a welcome invitation to overcome the vague depiction of slavery and its aftermath that still prevails in the memory of the people of this island.
328 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Our Landless Patria: Marginal Citizenship and Race in Caguas, Puerto Rico, 1880-1910 RO S A E CARRA S QUILLO Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. xxvi + 202 pp. (Cloth U S $ 55.00) ILEANA M. RODRIGUEZ-SILVA Department of History University of W ashington S eattle W A 98195-3560, U.S .A. < firstname.lastname@example.org u > Anyone researching the last decades of nineteenth-century Puerto R ico can attest to the overwhelming preoccupation of the Creole and colonial elite with the peasantrys lawless behavior. The peasantry manifested their disregard for the colonial legal system through recurrent land squatting, petty robbery, disobeying of work regulations, drinking, dancing, gambling, and ignoring court citations and fines. I n this study, R osa Carrasquillo re-evaluates and contextualizes the pervasive rhetoric of lawlessness ruling island politics and economics during the last period under S panish rule. S he explores the micro history of the central-eastern town of Caguas to uncover the transformations that led to more rapid capitalist expansion and fueled elite desires for further control over natural resources and labor. Carrasquillo invites us to reconsider the peasantrys wide range of actions as part of the broader field of prac tices of citizenship. The peasantrys apparent disregard for institutions and lawlessness cannot be taken as signs of avoidance, lack of knowledge, or complete rejection of the legal system, but instead represented the peasantrys alternative ways of engaging, negotiating, and challenging the many systems of oppression. I n the process, the rural laboring population defined citizenship on their own terms, which she calls marginal citizenship. To Carrasquillo, marginal citizenship rested upon the peasantrys appro priation and deployment of the natural-law construct in their daily practices and their formal engagements with authorities. She defines natural law as the practical belief that everyone is entitled to eat, work, and move freely to make a living (p. xxii). It was the popular understanding of their rights to survival that led the rural population to subvert and transgress the legal and social principles they deemed unfair. Carrasquillo suggests, however, that the rural population employed this legal abstraction (in practice and dis cursively) and resuscitated the principles of natural law within the Spanish system in order to justify access to land and its resources with the right of use and labor (p. 114). Though this is an interesting and original approach, she does not provide sufficient evidence to uncover convincingly the extent to which different sectors of the rural population understood the workings and
329 BOOK REVIEW S limitations of natural law as a legal concept. Did members of the peasantry recognize natural law as a legal construction of resonance in their communi ties and in the courts? W ere they aware of the S panish legal codifications of natural law and did they thus exploit them in their dealings with the state? W hile Carrasquillo attempts to answer these questions, her investigation only goes as far as to explore individuals extra-legal practices, which when assessed together show that the rural population sought to retain custom ary rights over material resources and their personal mobility in the face of increasing land privatization and policing. By examining a wide array of sources, particularly police records (which stated who committed a crime, who pressed charges, and which acts were deemed worthy of reporting to authorities), she describes alternative practices of communal living and dis tribution. A more productive avenue of inquir y could have been to uncover intersections and areas of overlap between the peasantrys defense of cus tomary rights and the Spanish legal systems codification of these practices (among them, natural law). Additionally, an in-depth exploration of the artic ulations of discourses about natural law and other related concepts, perhaps through more extensive textual analysis of court cases and peasants claims to authorities at different historical moments and social locations within the island, would have strengthened the theoretical framework. I n this regard, the final chapter of the book, dedicated to exploring gender hierarchies within marginal citizenship, is the most revealing. The peasantry, especially women, resorted to authorities to intervene on their behalf in domestic disputes. Ironically, these actions reasserted the states legal and patriarchal author ity. Through these claims and appeals, readers can begin to unravel some of the peasantrys expectations regarding the state, although it is not clearly explained how these demands fit within the larger framework of natural law. The understandings of (and means available to practice) marginal citizenship obviously differed for women and men. But readers are left to wonder how racial differences shaped the practices of intracommunal marginal citizen ship and how race marked the ways in which different sectors of the urban population engaged the state. O ne of the major strengths of this study is Carrasquilloss ability to delin eate the fundamental structural transformations that economically strangled the rural population in the latter part of the century. Her comprehensive and meticulous discussion of the 1878 Municipal Law, the 1880 Law of Mortgage and Property R egistry, the 1884 R egulations for the Composition and S ale of Unused Land, new taxation regulations, and the implementation of Cdulas de V ecindad in 1881 fully demonstrates the sophisticated means the elites devised to carry out the peasantrys land dispossession and control of their labor. In this story, however, elites often appear as a homogeneous block invested in the rapid development of agricultural capitalism. A more textured story would have emerged if Carrasquillo had paid closer attention to the
330 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) many ideological and material cleavages among the upper strata of society, which at times created the space to forge fragile alliances with groups from among the laboring population. R eaders need to understand Liberalism as an ideological field that entails a wide spectrum of practices and beliefs, often disconnected and in contradiction with each other. Although Carrasquillos main goal is to scrutinize how, through everyday practices of avoidance and engagement, the peasantry reformulated their communities during a period of rapid change, one can only fully understand these processes by looking simultaneously at the conflictive constitutive course other groups experi enced. W hat sorts of subjectivities are emerging (and clashing) through these mutually constitutive processes in this particular historical conjuncture? The exploration of these social articulations in urban and rural Caguas could have been another effective way to explore internal municipal conflicts and exam ine how this municipality followed or departed from the major sociopoliti cal and economic trends experienced in other geographic sites within Puerto Rico. Despite the few shortcomings mentioned above, the intricate social history Carrasquillo unfolds in the pages of this book deserves the attention of subaltern studies scholars in Latin America and the Caribbean because of the comprehensive insights it provides on the particular experiences of rural Puerto Ricans and the survival strategies they crafted. Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism MICHAEL LARGEY Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. xvi + 284 pp. (Paper U S $ 25.00) JULIAN GER S TIN Department of V isual and Performing Art Clark University W orcester MA 01610, U.S .A.
331 BOOK REVIEW S all Haitians once composers separated it from superstition (p. 214) and developed it along more universal lines. W hile this quick sketch of the books central theme may sound familiar, Largeys handling of it is subtle and revealing. Although Haitis milat (lightskinned), French-speaking elites distance themselves from peasant culture, historically they have also maintained a sense of opposition to external inter ference, particularly the U.S. occupation of 1915-1934. Intellectual attention to indigenous folk culture first emerged during this period, not only in music but also in painting, literature, and ethnography. Largeys first chapter, The Politics of Musical Ethnography, examines this phase, with a focus on folk lorist/diplomat Jean Price-Mars, one of the first to identify the African strain as central to Haitis culture. In contrast, Chapter 3, Africans and Arawaks, introduces a competing elitist ideology claiming a mixture of pre-Columbian Native American, African, and European cultures as Haitis unique heritage. Composers who adopted this view (Largey focuses on Ludovic Lamothe and Justin E lie) may have been racist in rejecting African primacy, but the ways in which they drew upon various strands of musical influence are creative and interesting nonetheless. Readers familiar with the contemporary crolit move ment in Martinique and Guadeloupe will find strong echoes in this chapter. Haitian composers do not simply appropriate folklore; some of them are in turn appropriated. The story of Occide Jeanty (1860-1936) in Chapter 2 provides a fascinating example. The popular imagination identified Jeanty, a military bandleader during the U.S. occupation, with revolutionary hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and both men with the V odou warrior deity Ogou. V odou songs to Ogou were understood to apply to Jeanty and Dessalines as well, popular songs referenced all three, events that happened to Dessalines were seen echoed in the life of Jeanty and vice versa, and Jeantys musical references to the Haitian revolution became a focus of nationalist feeling. Largey calls this play of symbols recombinant mythology. Chapter 4, African American Operas about Haiti, looks at the cross ing of African American and Haitian intellectual currents, a notable instance of what Largey terms diasporic cosmopolitanism. Early in the American occupation such luminaries as W .E.B. DuBois and James W eldon Johnson took an interest in Haiti mainly in protest against U.S. involvement and Price-Mars was influenced by them. The 1930s saw two operas with con trasting interpretations of Haitis history: Ouanga focused on a sensational istic yet sympathetic presentation of V odou, while Troubled Island, based on a play by Langston Hughes, placed class conflict between dark-skinned peasants and light-skinned elites at center stage. Largey winds up, in Chapter 5, with an extended study of composer W erner A. Jaegerhuber, who perhaps went further than any other twentiethcentury artist in merging Haitian folklore and classical music. Jaegerhuber compiled his own folklore collection and transcriptions as a preparation for
332 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) composition. Like other elites, he collected mainly by sitting with selecte d informants on a hotel verand a. (Largeys account of Langston Hughess rowdy, hard-drinking stint in Haitis countryside contrasts amusingly to the hotel veranda method.) Yet Jaegerhuber was diligent, publishing not only his own compositions but also folk song collections, and seeming to view his contribution in both realms as equally germane. For ethnomusicologists, Largeys discussion of Jaegerhubers aims and methods of transcription, based on the work of his near-contemporary Harold Courlander, will be a highlight. Throughout the book, Largey shows how strands of ideology compete; there is never just one dominating interpretation. S imilarly, his book straddles academic fences. Nationalist movements in art music have received much attention. In fact, this is one of the chief areas in which music history has adopted the contextualizing perspective of ethnomusicology. But nationalist musical movements in such tiny, poor countries as Haiti are less well known, and some academics may still think of them as belonging to ethnomusicol ogy. (The jacket for Vodou Nation classifies the book as ethnomusicology but not music history.) As for ethnomusicology, despite that fields claim to encompass all music it has provided few accounts of W estern classical music-making. In that sense, Vodou Nation is one of the more groundbreak ing ethnomusicological studies of recent years. I wish Largey had developed some aspects of his subject more fully. His transcriptions and musical examples are well selected but only briefly elabo rated, particularly in Jaegerhubers case. His focus on a handful of dead com posers (in typical music history manner) means that we get only the barest glimpse of what art music means to Haitian elite performers and audiences today. Yet Largeys Epilogue betrays extensive participatory observation, including his own performances in choirs and orchestras, as well as a stint as a choral director. Caribbean elites in general remain an understudied group. More on their lives would have been welcome. For those interested in Haitian life and religion, African diasporic intel lectual history, or the intersections of politics and music, Vodou Nation is a thought-provoking read.
333 BOOK REVIEW S Inna di Dancehall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity in Jamaica. DONNA P. HO P E Kingston: University of the W est Indies Press, 2006. xxii + 169 pp. (Paper U S $ 25.00) DANIEL NEELY Archive of Contemporary Music 54 White S treet New York, NY 10013, U.S .A.
334 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) Chapter 3, an examination of sexuality in dancehall culture, begins with an image of the social construction of gender and explores how ideas about beauty and mobility are tied to colonial-era notions of class and complexion. Her analysis is insightful, noting right away how carefully the boundaries of masculinity are policed and how important sexuality is in the dis/place as a site of both male and female identity negotiation. There, maleness is affirmed by conquering (p. 48) the punaany (slang for female genitalia). While hav ing children with (or simply having) multiple sexual partners is one way for men to assert their identity, Hope argues that female roles, such as skettel (loose woman) and matie (other woman), are roles that reinforce the bound aries of masculinity largely by not challenging them. In contrast, Hope explores how the queens of the dancehall dis/place largel y self-reliant women, many of whom have accrued some measure of personal wealth and professional renown in the informal sector use their sexuality ruthlessly (p. 62) to navigate the rigid boundaries of masculinity and attain respect and mobility. Although seeing the dis/place as an arena that facilitates the sexual liberation of women (p. 77) is compelling, Hope cautions against this view. Her comparison of two important female deejays, Carlene Davis and Lady S aw, and her analysis of dancing contests show that even dancehall queens who achieve fair personal success are ultimately con strained both by complexion and economic background. Her analysis also looks at male homosexuality and not only sheds light on the politics behind anti-gay feeling in dancehall culture (condoning male homosexuality, she argues, is thought of as being a feminizing act), but also suggests the role that women even independently minded women who play to masculinity have in sustaining these feelings. Chapter 4 is about violence. Hope builds on the work of others to sug gest that although conflict is often played out in dancehall lyrics symboli cally (see Cooper 1994), she sometimes found it tenuously linked to real acts of violence (p. 88), mainly when violent narratives reflect lived reali ties in Kingstons inner city. In these narratives dons and shottas the antiheroes of violence in the dancehall dis/place (p. 91), figure prominently. R epresenting an authority more relevant than any state agency, Hope argues that they become important role models for inner-city youth struggling to attain a measure of social power. Through a description of several musical events, she demonstrates how the boundaries between symbolic and real vio lence shift and how the discourse that arises from these events helps maintain moral distance between the dis/place and the rest of Jamaican society. The books short final chapter recapitulates Hopes earlier ideas about dancehall symbols and ends with a meditation on identity politics in which she suggests that although the dancehall dis/place enables people to assert publicly self and status (p. 128), doing so contributes to a wi versus dem dynamic that divides Jamaican society largely along class lines.
335 BOOK REVIEW S Many will find Hopes work useful. Her argument for putting the informal economy and entrepreneurial class at the heart of dancehall culture is insight ful, and helps shed fresh light on both the violent trajectories of inner-city youth and the different ways sexuality is used as a means for self-determina tion. Others, however, will want a fuller exploration of dancehalls musical and historical elements. Readers who are familiar with Norman Stolzoffs work on dancehall will find many aspects of her book familiar, none so much, however, as Hopes notion of the dancehall dis/place, which appears to be a retelling of Stolzoffs (2000:1, 6-12) earlier ideas about dancehall culture. Ultimately, while Hopes work may have a few gaps, it is a welcome addition to the literature. REFERENCE S COO P ER, CAROLYN 1994. Lyrical Gun: Metaphor and Role-Play in Dancehall Culture. Massachusetts Review 35:429-47. STOLZOFF, NOR M AN, 2000. Wake the Town & Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica. Durham NC: Duke University Press. The Politics of Passion: Womens Sexual Culture in the Afro-Surinamese Diaspora GLORIA WEKKER New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. xvii + 313 pp. (Paper U S $ 27.50) W VAN WETERING Amsterdam S chool for S ocial S cience Research 1012 CX Amsterdam, the Netherlands
336 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) The book focuses on the world of mati, working-class women who have evolved a specific social and sexual lifestyle, based on the Afro-S urinamese worldview. I cannot think of any other ethnographic account of intimate rela tions among women in the African-American diaspora that is as incisive. As W ekker was quick to discover, the difference from the W estern lesbian lifestyle she was familiar with proved to be considerable. The mati work is disclosed as a cultural complex, characterized by its own ethos, norms, val ues, and social codes. W ekker opted for a research strategy of active personal involvement. This not only required her to become fluent in Sranantongo, the creole language of Suriname (which her parents had discouraged her from using as a child), but also to familiarize herself with a different cultural code in dealing with lovers. The candid appraisal of the problems she faced during this period of reorientation is much to her credit. W ekker situates her contribution in the field of sexuality studies. S he takes part in current debates on sex and gender, for instance, by tackling the ques tion of whether same-sex sexuality can be best understood under the rubric of identity or that of behavior. She forcefully challenges received opinions about female sexuality current in W estern lesbian circles. Considering sex as self-driven, she stresses the desirability of disentangling sex from love. By taking that position, her opinions fly in the face of many prevalent views and simplistic generalizations. The book clearly fills a gap in Caribbean studies. In the many publica tions on Black family life in the New W orld, much attention has been paid to forms of mating and kinship, but little to sexuality per se, let alone the way this field of experience is articulated by subaltern voices. By demonstrating the enduring quasi-kin ties among mati W ekker proves the significance of such relations for the wider kinship system. Consanguineal and heterosexual relations are not exclusively privileged in creating lasting bonds. W ekker clashes with quite a few predecessors in the field of Caribbean social studies. She raises objections to those students of matrifocality who represent the female heads of households primarily as losers, thereby losing sight of the opportunities arising in a world free from male surveillance. Mati make abundant use of this free social space. O ne cannot conclude, however, that all insights gained from matrifocality studies are easily dismissed. There is little ground to doubt that the profound economic insecurity, so marked in many a Creole womans household, played an immense role in creating mati culture. But on the whole, W ekker is successful in placing mati life within the context of S urinames social realities, past and present. The findings also bring her to question the viability of another Caribbean perennial the linked concepts of reputation and respectability. In this per spective, women are regarded as striving primarily to gain respectability, while men fight for enhancing their reputation. This would not hold for mati as W ekker convincingly shows. Assertiveness, sometimes reinforced
337 BOOK REVIEW S by violent action, boosts a womans highly valued reputation. Nevertheless, respectability and fear of gossip remain a major concern. W ekker considers the unconscious grammatical principles, postulated by Mintz and Price (1976/1992) in their influential The Birth of AfricanAmerican Culture as basic to any understanding of African-inspired culture in the diaspora. In this perspective, the mati experience can be understood as part of an African heritage. W ekker rests her case on the Creole concept of the self believed to harbor powers that are male as well as female. Though admittedly a hypothesis the multiplicity of the self is recognized in many African cultures such an inference about the African origins of matihood cannot be substantiated, and she acknowledges its speculative character. Few would deny that sexuality tends to be charged with unconscious motivation, but this would not go far in explaining any feature of the mati complex. The term unconscious has obvious psychoanalytic connotations, which she dis misses in other contexts. W ekker takes V an Lier (1986) to task, for example, for locating his interpretation of the mati complex in a psychoanalytic frame work. The grammatical principles, carrying structuralist implications, do not seem to be of much help either, and W ekker makes no further moves in this direction. The image of self as a key to an understanding of mati life brings W ekker into the orbit of W inti studies, the field of Afro-Surinamese religion and worldview many working-class women subscribe to. Here she relies on what practitioners tell her and on her own reading of the extensive literature. Not surprisingly, she notes discrepancies between what her various sources tell her, as could be expected. This is no excuse, however, for misquoting W ooding (1981:91) when he presents his classification of W inti pantheons of gods and spirits, and failing to discriminate between interpretations given by informants and what she has learned from written sources. In this presenta tion it is no longer clear who is responsible for certain strange notions. Who, for instance, volunteered the idea that an Akantasi spirit belongs to the pan theon of sky gods (p. 100)? I have never come across this extraordinary opin ion, either in the literature or during my years of fieldwork in S uriname. The books main problem is its structure. Subjects are raised, only to be dropped for other topics, and then taken up again in other contexts. S ubjects such as womens income and position in the labor market, matrifocality, and negative stereotypes about Black female sexuality turn up twice or even three times in the text. Repetition and redundancy work as an anti-climax, and some pruning would have been welcome. The writing style, so naturally fluent in discussion of the cases, conversations, and experiences, loses its eloquence when theoretical issues are addressed. Translation presents other problems. S ome expressions, more or less transparent to anyone familiar with Dutch (Bourguignons analysis speaks to me more, [pp. 92-93]), may appear enigmatic to Anglophone readers. Some translations of song texts
338 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) and proverbs in Sranantongo for which she received assistance appear misleading. No deep historical knowledge of plantation life is needed, for instance, to know that a granmisi who, as an old song suggested, gave birth to a son with a donkey chin (p. 12) is not an older woman, as the translation says, but the masters prime consort. The thrust of the songs meaning, its social critique, is lost this way. But these infelicities should not make us lose sight of the real qualities of this unusual and profound ethnography. REFERENCE S LIER, RUDOLF VAN 1986. Tropische Tribaden Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Foris MINTZ, SIDNEY W & RICHARD PRICE, 1992. The Birth of African-American Culture: An Anthropological Perspective Boston: Beacon Press. [ O rig. 1976.] WOODING, CHARLE S J. 1981. Evolving Culture: A Cross-Cultural Study of Suriname, West Africa and the Caribbean W ashington DC: University Press of America. Issues in the Study of Pidgin and Creole Languages CLAIRE LEFE B VRE Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2004. xv + 358 pp. (Cloth 99.00, U S $ 119.00) SALIKOKO S. MUFWENE Department of Linguistics University of Chicago Chicago IL 60637, U.S .A.
339 BOOK REVIEW S hypothesis and highlight the contribution that creolistics can make to general linguistics are less than fully successful. The book revolves about the evolution of creoles, especially Haitian Creole (HC), and the role of relexification and leveling in this process. According to Lefebvre, these are processes otherwise known to play a role in language genesis and in language change in general (p. 2). R elexification operates within individual second language learners, while leveling reduces variation among them, through what I suspect to be mutual accommodations. But why would individual speakers first relexify the target language only to level out their differences in order to converge toward a communal system? W ouldnt the relevant learners have found it more cost-effective to listen to each other and select structures that guaranteed successful communication even before they had fully relexified the target language at the cost of little mutual intelligibility? Following the introductory chapter, Chapter 2 argues that creoles and pid gins have developed only in multilingual communities, but it says nothing of Berbice Dutch, which evolved out of the contact of primarily Eastern Ijo and Dutch. Lefebvre claims, as traditionally in creolistics, that in settings where creoles developed, speakers of the substratum languages generally [had] little access to the superstratum language (p. 8). She does not address the counter-position that there was no break in the transmission of the lexifier (Chaudenson 2001, Mufwene 2001). S he also claims that creoles developed abruptly and that HC was formed between 1680 and 1740 (p. 30). What makes a period of sixty years so abrupt in a language history that spans three centuries and half? Besides, she presents an evolutionary scenario that is in effect gradualist, as she argues correctly that the target language for the bozal slaves must have been a lingua franca formed by the earlier slaves that need not be identical with the initial E uropean model. Other than the case of Media Lengua that inspired her, Lefebvre finds apparent indirect support for the RH in Melanesian pidgins, which display significant substrate influence. But the contact settings in which these pidgins emerged differed from the Haitian situation, producing different implications for population growth and language transmission. For instance, the former had a Creole population, whose earlier generations spoke closer approxima tions of the European target language, whereas the latter had pidgin speak ers as transmitters of the European language. Also, the substrate languages were typologically more homogeneous in Melanesia than they were in the Caribbean. Chapter 3 spells out details of substrate hypotheses, repeating some of the very prose and illustrations of the previous chapter. The usual questions arise here regarding whether HC constructions that reflect congruous pat terns of Fongbe and nonstandard French must necessarily be interpreted as relexified from the substrate languages and why. No new arguments are
340 New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids vol. 81 no. 3 & 4 (2007) presented against Chaudenson (1992, 2001) and DeGraff (2002). Lefebvre is undoubtedly correct in arguing that structures of creole vernaculars do not represent the unmarked case (p. 121), if one assumes some universal scale of markedness. However, one can also argue that creole structures represent unmarked options relative to those available to their creators in their spe cific contact ecologies (Mufwene 2001). Unsurprisingly, Lefebvre concludes that from a typological point of view, Haitian Creole should be classified with its substratum languages (p. 122). Since the substratum is not typologically uniform, why favor the con nection to it over what HC shares with some nonstandard French dialects? I agree that creoles do not all have identical grammatical structures (p. 123), but maintain that they still show a number of interesting similarities on the family-resemblance model. Chapter 4 states that we would not want to exclude the possibility that other languages (e.g., languages not known to be creoles and difficult to classify due their history) may have been formed in the same way creoles have (p. 128), but gives no examples. Nor does Lefebvre consider the fact that contact and varying degrees of language mixing seem to have played a central role in the evolution of any modern language. Nor does she discuss the fact that specific and by now classic hypotheses have been proposed in this connection before e.g., Schlieben-Lange (1977) about the evolution of R omance languages. W hile Lefebvre discusses some connection between relexification and L2 acquisition, she does not show how research on creoles can contribute, for example, to understanding the phenomenon of transfer. Neither is there any allusion to leveling, regarding whether it causes varia tion to disappear and why (not). In Chapter 5, which focuses on data, Lefebvre presents justifications for the way she has conducted her research but does not clarify how her approach can help improve construction and use of data in general linguis tics. Contrary to Lefebvre, I hold that large corpora such as those used by quantitative linguists would seriously improve the treatment of data in cre olistics and theoretical linguistics, especially if the data were not elicited (except for curious omissions) and if one tried to identify curious construc tions in the free discourse of native speakers. W hile caution is surely needed in using written sources in the practice of diachronic creolistics, her state ment that Haitian historical materials are not considered as a valid source of data about earlier stages of HC is shocking. I f one truly believes in variation in language, should inconsistencies within and among speakers really be considered a problem? S kipping on to Chapter 9, Lefebvre acknowledges the relevance of social factors to leveling but she does not discuss them, instead referring readers to other scholars publications (pp. 232-33). She gives no information about inter-idiolectal leveling, especially regarding differences that have their
341 BOOK REVIEW S origins in variation in the speakers respective learning skills, and no expla nation why variation is not all eliminated at the same time (p. 237). A more committed interest in social factors and the history of the setting might have shed light on this question. Lefebvres discussion here also raises the ques tion of whether the disproportion between E uropeans and nonE uropeans on the plantation colonies, which would become increasingly lopsided in favor on non-Europeans as the plantation industry prospered, should be confused with the proportion of native to nonnative speakers. As Chaudenson (1992, 2001) makes clear, all Creole children of the homestead phase spoke basi cally the same koinized colonial varieties regardless of race. Therefore the growing disproportion between Europeans and non-Europeans did not nec essarily mean that the bozal slaves lacked adequate access to the colonial varieties of the E uropean languages during the early stages plantation phase, when segregation was initially instituted. The native speakers need not have been (fully) of European descent. REFERENCE S CHAUDEN S ON, RO B ERT 1992. Des les, des hommes, des langues: Essais sur la crolisa tion linguistique et culturelle Paris: LHarmattan. , 2001. Creolization of Language and Culture London: Routledge. DEGRAFF, MICHEL 2002. Relexification: A Reevaluation. Anthropological Linguistics 44:321-414. LEFE B VRE, CLAIRE 1998. Creole Genesis and the Acquisition of Grammar: The Case of Hai tian Creole Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. MUFWENE, SALIKOKO S ., 2001. The Ecology of Language Evolution Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. SCHLIE B EN-LANGE, BRIGITTE 1977. Lorigine des langues romanes: Un cas de croli sation? In Jrgen Meisel (ed.), Langues en contact pidgins creoles Languages in Contact Tbingen, Germany: Gunter Narr, pp. 81-101.