American Creoles

American Creoles: The Francophone Caribbean and the American South

Martin Munro
Celia Britton
Volume: 3
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    American Creoles
    Book Description:

    The Francophone Caribbean and the American South are sites born of the plantation, the common matrix for the diverse nations and territories of the circum-Caribbean. This book takes as its premise that the basic configuration of the plantation, in terms of its physical layout and the social relations it created, was largely the same in the Caribbean and the American South. Essays written by leading authorities in the field examine the cultural, social, and historical affinities between the Francophone Caribbean and the American South, including Louisiana, which among the Southern states has had a quite particular attachment to France and the Francophone world. The essays focus on issues of history, language, politics and culture in various forms, notably literature, music and theatre. Considering figures as diverse as Barack Obama, Frantz Fanon, Miles Davis, James Brown, Edouard Glissant, William Faulkner, Maryse Condé and Lafcadio Hearn, the essays explore in innovative ways the notions of creole culture and creolization, terms rooted in and indicative of contact between European and African people and cultures in the Americas, and which are promoted here as some of the most productive ways for conceiving of the circum-Caribbean as a cultural and historical entity.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-720-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Martin Munro and Celia Britton

    There is a curious relationship between the birth of an academic field and its death. In the manifestos and declaration of intent that mark the invention of a field there is often a recognition of its limitations and an intimation of its future demise. In some cases there is even a tacit challenge to bring about and hasten that expiration, or at least quickly to render the field’s initial manifestations and conceptual apparatus redundant. Such would seem to be the case with Francophone Postcolonial Studies, a field of study that itself came into being through the end of another, the...

  6. Creolizations
    • Lafcadio Hearn’s American Writings and the Creole Continuum
      (pp. 19-39)
      Mary Gallagher

      Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) is famous principally for having ‘interpreted’ Japan for the West in the closing years of the nineteenth century. Even if his life and work are recognized as falling into two main periods, the American and the Far Eastern, the latter is usually seen as outshining the former. It is less, however, the work of Hearn’s Japanese period than the inscapes of his American/Caribbean writings that hold the key – if not to the overall significance, then certainly to the contemporary resonance of this unusualfin-de-sièclefigure and of his work. These writings are clearly founded on...

    • Auguste Lussan’s La Famille créole: How Saint-Domingue Émigrés Became Louisiana Creoles
      (pp. 40-55)
      Typhaine Leservot

      The 1791 slave uprising in Saint-Domingue, followed by the revolution and Haiti’s independence in 1804, had a profound impact on Louisiana. Soon after the uprising began, hundreds of refugees from the island trickled into New Orleans. Around 1803, thousands more arrived. Six years later, in a few months between 1809 and 1810, 10,000 of them poured into the region when they were no longer welcome in Cuba, where they had first settled after fleeing Saint-Domingue. The sheer number of refugees doubled the population of New Orleans, which reached 25,000 by 1810, turning it into the seventh largest city in the...

    • Caribbean and Creole in New Orleans
      (pp. 56-76)
      Angel Adams Parham

      While most of the United States has historically been dominated by a ‘black/white’ racial binary, New Orleans – as well as many other parts of Louisiana – has long been shaped by a tripartite division that included a thriving community of free people of colour who were socially in-between and distinct from enslaved blacks and free whites. This division was nurtured by Louisiana’s Spanish and French colonial rulers and then significantly reinvigorated by the migration of nearly 10,000 refugees from the Haitian Revolution, who fled their first refuge in eastern Cuba to settle in New Orleans in 1809. In the...

    • Creolizing Barack Obama
      (pp. 77-94)
      Valérie Loichot

      While the French, during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, overwhelmingly responded in a survey that they would be willing to elect a black president, the French language paradoxically does not have a proper epithet to name the American president.² On 4 June 2008,Figarojournalist Pierre Rousselin described the then winner of the Democratic nomination as ‘a 46-year-oldmétis’. Métis, a word embedded in the French history of slavery and colonialism, and today synonymous with either denigration or praise of racial and cultural mixing, has acted as Obama’s default epithet in the French mainstream media. Through a reflection on the naming...

    • Richard Price or the Canadian from Petite-Anse: The Potential and the Limitations of a Hybrid Anthropology
      (pp. 95-110)
      Christina Kullberg

      On the cover of the second edition of Richard Price’sThe Convict and the Colonel: A Story of Colonialism and Resistance in the Caribbean(1998), Maryse Condé comments that the author’s ‘research is more fascinating than a piece of fiction’. American anthropologist Richard Price’s study of the role of memory in modern Martinican society examines the strange fate of a social pariah, Médard Aribot, thief and artist, who, following his return from prison on Devil’s Island, divided his time during the final years of his life between Petite-Anse and the town of Le Diamant in the south west of Martinique....

  7. Music
    • ‘Fightin’ the Future’: Rhythm and Creolization in the Circum-Caribbean
      (pp. 113-128)
      Martin Munro

      The plantation societies of the Americas were set up essentially as modern, profit-driven machines that used human beings as combustible, disposable parts. Far from nurturing cohesive communities, European colonists createdanti-societiesthat relied on the continuous supply and consumption of bodies uprooted and thrown out of step, out of rhythm with the places and cultures they were born into. In the colonial Caribbean, where the indigenous population was more or less wiped out by illness and warfare, the new populations comprised many disparate groups of African slaves and a number of European nationalities. Set up to be dystopian, segregated work...

    • Leaving the South: Frantz Fanon, Modern Jazz and the Rejection of Négritude
      (pp. 129-146)
      Jeremy F. Lane

      In his biography of Frantz Fanon, David Macey is somewhat dismissive of the scattered allusions to jazz Fanon makes throughout his work. Thus, according to Macey, the ‘parody of thenégritudevision of Louis Armstrong’s music’ inPeau noire, masques blancs(1952) proves that Fanon knew little about the music itself and was interested primarily, if not exclusively, in its sociological significance (Macey, 2000: 124). The promotion of modern jazz, inLes Damnés de la terre(1961), as a model for the ‘national culture’ of a newly independent Algeria, meanwhile, was simply ‘not at all pertinent’ to Algeria (ibid.: 378)....

    • The Sorcerer and the Quimboiseur: Poetic Intention in the Works of Miles Davis and Édouard Glissant
      (pp. 147-164)
      Jean-Luc Tamby

      Édouard Glissant’s writing is deeply rooted in a strategy that challenges a hegemonic form of language use,¹ as described in detail by Celia Britton, with particular reference to his essays and novels (Britton, 1999). Miles Davis’s music, too, can be interpreted as a counter-discourse. The literature of the Caribbean and jazz music in the United States belong in fact to areas of cultural activity which have comparable histories despite their dissimilarities. A comparative approach to Glissant’s writing and the trumpet player’s improvisations can therefore allow us to reflect on the connections between strategies of resistance and, on the other hand,...

    • Creolizing Jazz, Jazzing the Tout-monde: Jazz, Gwoka and the Poetics of Relation
      (pp. 165-180)
      Jerome Camal

      In a recent article inBlack Music Research Journal, French sociologist Denis-Constant Martin proposed that Martinican writer Édouard Glissant’s concept of creolization could help reconcile jazz’s historical roots as an African American music with its recent universalization (Martin, 2008). Martin thus joined a growing group of scholars who use the concept of creolization in globalization studies in order to emphasize the fluid and unstable nature of culture. Meanwhile, scholars in postcolonial studies have embraced creolization’s potential to celebrate the creative ingenuity of ‘subaltern and deterritorialized peoples’ and its power to subvert ‘older notions of cultural dissolution and disorganization’ (Khan, 2007:...

  8. Intertextualities:: Faulkner, Glissant, Condé
    • Go Slow Now: Saying the Unsayable in Édouard Glissant’s Reading of Faulkner
      (pp. 183-196)
      Michael Wiedorn

      ‘Nous réclamons le droit à l’opacité’ [We demand the right to opacity]:¹ this demand, articulated on the first pages of theDiscours antillais[Caribbean Discourse] (Glissant, 1981: 11), resonates throughout Édouard Glissant’s work.² For Glissant, one way that literature can deploy opacity is to engage in a set of paired, paradoxical operations. It can say the unsayable, or make the invisible visible – or, more accurately put, present the absent. With his literary-critical textFaulkner, Mississippi, Glissant perceives both of these operations in the novels of an author whom he has hailed as the greatest of the twentieth century (Glissant,...

    • Édouard Glissant and the Test of Faulkner’s Modernism
      (pp. 197-215)
      Hugues Azéradt

      InFaulkner, Mississippi, Glissant provides us with an innovative reading of an author whose work we thought we already knew almost inside out. Indeed, in 1996, compared with other great modernists such as Joyce, Woolf, Proust, Kafka and Musil, Faulkner was beginning to seem outdated, ‘unsaleable’ and even undesirable within the field of literary criticism. Faulkner’s heyday was under New Criticism and at the time of the White House’s anti-communist policies of the 1950s and 1960s (Schwartz, 1988), and only a small number of brilliant hardliners such as Philip Weinstein, Barbara Ladd, John Mathews, Richard Godden, André Bleikasten and Claude...

    • The Theme of the Ancestral Crime in the Novels of Faulkner, Glissant and Condé
      (pp. 216-229)
      Celia Britton

      William Faulkner, Édouard Glissant and Maryse Condé all come from that part of the world that we can define as the American Tropics, and therefore share a common history of plantation slavery. Within that history, however, they occupy very different positions – Faulkner as the descendant of slaveowners, Glissant and Condé as the descendants of slaves. In addition, the American South and the Caribbean have very different attitudes towards the question of racial mixing, pejoratively known as miscegenation in the United States and positively as métissage or creolization in the Caribbean. The South’s fear of miscegenation leads to an obsession...

    • An American Story
      (pp. 230-239)
      Yanick Lahens

      1963 – I was twenty years old, the age at which we thrust words taut as fists into the sun’s face, when we burn through the days so as not to drag into old age. I had left for America as one summons life, without even waiting for it to beckon. In New York, more than a woman, black, or a student, I was an escapee. I was looking for a way out. Dense thickets still blocked many paths to me when, two years after my arrival, I met Scott Bradley, a black lawyer of the NAACP. In the eyes...

  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 240-243)
  10. Index
    (pp. 244-256)