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Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean

Gerard Aching
Volume: 8
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Masking and Power
    Book Description:

    Focusing on masking as a socially significant practice in Caribbean cultures, Gerard Aching’s analysis articulates masking, mimicry, and misrecognition as a means of describing and interrogating strategies of visibility and invisibility in Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique, and beyond. Cultural Studies of the Americas Series, volume 8

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9407-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Masking, Misrecognition, Mimicry
    (pp. 1-48)

    The epigraphs with which I open this chapter have inspired me to think about this study in a particular way. The first one comes from Earl Lovelace’s classic novel about transformations in Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival and urban society less than a decade after the twin-island nation obtained its political independence from Britain in 1962. In this excerpt, Aldrick, the novel’s protagonist, expresses the desire to be seen in a more profound manner than the collective gaze that observes him as he performs and revels in the dragon-mask costume that he would fabricate almost single-handedly and introduce into the streets...

  5. PART I Undisguised Masking

    • CHAPTER ONE Dispossession, Nonpossession, and Self-Possession: Postindependence Masking in Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance
      (pp. 51-72)

      At the culminating moment of an ardent impromptu speech that he gave before a crowd that had been following him and his fellow “warriors” in their revolt against disempowerment, the protagonist of Earl Lovelace’s novelThe Dragon Can’t Danceutters a bewildering statement. The revolt ends with their arrest and eventual trial, all of which do not inhibit them from expressing their satisfaction because they were able to scare and intimidate the population into recognizing them and their demands for social justice. There is, however, an unresolved issue in Aldrick’s speech that still has not been studied adequately in the...

    • CHAPTER TWO The New Visibilities: Middle-Class Cosmopolitanism in the Street
      (pp. 73-98)

      In my reading of theThe Dragon Can’t Dance,I hinted at Earl Lovelace’s critique of the encroachment of the Creole middle class and its political and socioeconomic institutions on Port of Spain’s carnival practices.¹ Aldrick, for example, complains that sponsorships had been turning the steel-band yards where “warriors” once met into concert halls; the calypsonian, Philo, had left the Hill, placed his talent in the marketplace, and began to claim, in his adherence to a competitive, bourgeois ideology, that “I is we”; and, after he had been released from prison, Aldrick discovers that the dragon mask was being aestheticized...

  6. PART II Masking through Language

    • CHAPTER THREE Specularity and the Language of Corpulence: Estrella’s Body in Cabrera Infante’s Tres tristes tigres
      (pp. 101-125)

      A distinctive feature that separates the Spanish-speaking Caribbean’s constructions of national and regional cultural identities from those of the rest of the Caribbean is the access that Hispanophone artists, intellectuals, and politicians enjoy to two principal and competing discourses about their culture(s). Prevalent in modified forms throughout Spanish America today, the first discourse has been an institutionally privileged one that emerged over a hundred and fifty years ago as national and supranational attempts atcriolloself-definition.¹ This discourse informs the termrazaand the narratives that have contributed to the latter’s amply debated meanings. José Enrique Rodó’sAriel(1900) offers...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Turning a Blind Eye in the Name of the Law: Cultural Alienation in Chamoiseau’s Solibo Magnifique
      (pp. 126-152)

      Alienation is often characterized as an innocence that is decipherable in others or, less frequently, that one unexpectedly perceives in oneself and then may strive to overcome. The excerpt from Césaire’s seminal poem that I have quoted provides a familiar portrait of collective alienation in which an omniscient voice evokes a throng of people that lives calmly removed from its own “sens” [meaning] and “vrai cri” [true cry].According to this voice, alienation lies embedded in the paradoxical simultaneity of the throng’s legitimate cry for social justice and its failure to enun- ciate this cry. This alienation, ostensibly that of Martinicans...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 153-164)
  8. Works Cited
    (pp. 165-170)
  9. Index
    (pp. 171-180)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 181-181)