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Difference and Global Order Week 7. Creolization Clare Anderson.

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1 Difference and Global Order Week 7. Creolization Clare Anderson

2 Introduction The concept of creolization proposes that as a result of globalization the boundaries around cultures become blurred, and they become hard to distinguish from each other. This leads to complex new cultural syntheses and cultural forms.

3 History of Creoles

4 Creole communities Mauritius (Rosabelle Boswell, The Creole Malaise). Sierra Leone (Krio) Trinidad and Guyana (‘gentrified creolization’, Cohen and Toninato) There are many others … in Brazil, Cuba, French Caribbean, &c &c

5 Creolization Language Culture, music, dance (sega, calypso, carnival),food, architecture, religion (voodoo, Candomblé ) Tourism - Gordon Rohlehr describes carnival and calypso as ‘theatres in and metaphors through which the drama of Trinidad’s social history is encoded and enacted’ (p. 170 of Creolization Reader.) 84 creole languages worldwide

6 Theories of Creolization Creolization: The cross-fertilization that takes place between different cultures when they interact (‘contact zone’). Local people select particular elements from in-coming cultures, endow these with meanings different from those they possessed in the original culture, and then creatively merge these with pre-existing traditions to create totally new forms.

7 Françoise Vergès - dynamics of loss and the preservation of beliefs and practices. A strategy of survival and cultural negotiation within a power laden situation. ‘The Island of Wandering Souls’, in Rod Edmond and Vanessa Smith, eds, Islands in History and Representation (Routledge, 2003). [On Réunion Island]. Édouard Glissant - ‘the encounter, the interface, the clash, the harmonies and disharmonies between cultures’ (Poetics of Relation, 1997). [French Caribbean].

8 Hybridity Homi Bhabha (1994) ‘Signs Taken For Wonder’. ‘Hybridity’ as a transgressive act that challenged the colonizers’ authority, values, representations … it was therefore an important act of self-empowerment and defiance. Conflict is at the heart of ‘hybridity’. ‘Hybridity’ is always subversive, it is marked by ‘ambivalence’ which appropriates, mimics and mocks the dominant culture.

9 Stuart Hall, transculturation. Concepts of cultural authenticity or purity are a delusion. Sidney Mintz/ Robin Cohen & Paola Toninato – on universal applicability of the concept. Creolization as a metaphor rather than as a process. The ‘glocal’ (global/local). See Eriksen (in Reader) & Ulf Hannerz, Transnational Connections (Routledge, 1996).

10 The Politics of Creolization French Caribbean context. Créolité v. negritude [Aimé Césaire] – ‘Neither Europeans nor Africans, nor Asians, we proclaim ourselves Creoles.’ Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau &Raphaël Confiant (1989 ‘manifesto’) – Édouard Glissant

11 Creolization … - It is embedded in well-defined socio-historical contexts rather than in abstract theory. - It avoids the unfortunate biological underpinnings of the concept of ‘hybridity’, or ‘mixed X, Y, Z’. - It moves beyond the idea of cultural contact as a linear process, in which some cultures ‘survive’ and others are displaced. - It helps break down simplistic ideas of colonizers and colonized (eg slaves could be colonizers, but evidently they cannot be viewed in the same frame as European elites.) - It views cultures as dynamic systems. - It places people at the centre of culture and society, gives them agency, creativity and the capacity for resistance. In this respect … - It empowers historically downtrodden peoples to see that they have had a stake in the creation of distinct cultures that are not European in ‘origin’.

12 Cohen and Toninato, Reader (p. 12): ‘The use of the notion of creolization highlights the fact that even when cultural contact occurs as a result of enslavement, colonization or forced exile, as in the case of New World plantation societies, it remains a highly dialogical process that affects and involves – indeed may be constitutive of – both colonizers and colonized, or, more generally, dominant and minority groups.’

13 But …. Creolization v. cosmopolitanism? What about power? Poverty, gender, other social variegations?


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