Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Tropic Tendencies

Tropic Tendencies: Rhetoric, Popular Culture, and the Anglophone Caribbean

Kevin Adonis Browne
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjn5w
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Tropic Tendencies
    Book Description:

    A legacy of slavery, abolition, colonialism, and class struggle has profoundly impacted the people and culture of the Caribbean. InTropic Tendencies,Kevin Adonis Browne examines the development of an Anglophone Caribbean rhetorical tradition in response to the struggle to make meaning, maintain identity, negotiate across differences, and thrive in light of historical constraints and the need to participate in contemporary global culture.Browne bases his study on the concept of the "Caribbean carnivalesque" as the formative ethos driving cultural and rhetorical production in the region and beyond it. He finds that carnivalesque discourse operates as a "continuum of discursive substantiation" that increases the probability of achieving desired outcomes for both the rhetor and the audience. Browne also views the symbolic and material interplay of the masque and its widespread use to amplify efforts of resistance, assertion, and liberation.Browne analyzes rhetorical modes and strategies in a variety of forms, including music, dance, folklore, performance, sermons, fiction, poetry, photography, and digital media. He introduces chantwells, calypsonians, old talkers, jamettes, stickfighters, badjohns, and others as exemplary purveyors of Caribbean rhetoric and deconstructs their rhetorical displays. From novels by Earl Lovelace, he also extracts thematic references to kalinda, limbo, and dragon dances that demonstrate the author's claim of an active vernacular sensibility. He then investigates the re-creation and reinvention of the carnivalesque in cyber culture, demonstrating the ways participants both flaunt and defy normative ideas of "Caribbeanness" in online and macro environments.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7911-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. INTRODUCTION: A Jour Ouvert
    (pp. 1-9)

    Labor Day. Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 1999: there I was, standing half-naked in the middle of Eastern Parkway, covered from head to foot in blue paint. Headbad. My costume: horns, shorts, jungle boots, a rough tail, and a nearly empty leather rum pouch around my neck.Watch me, nah!A former Caliban, reclaiming myself in Brooklyn. A comfortably clichéd champion of my culture. A displaced Trini. A shameless measure of the condition that my physical appearance had defined, indulging in one of the few “pleasures of exile.”¹ More Caribbean than I had ever had cause to be when I was...

  2. CHAPTER 1 Mas Rhetorica: A BRIEF DISCOURSE ON THE CARIBBEAN CARNIVALESQUE
    (pp. 10-29)

    The emergence of an articulable Caribbean ethos occurred at a critical juncture in the history of the region. Referred to in theIllustrated London Newsas “parts of the world to which public attention [was] becoming much directed by impending changes in the main route of commerce,”¹ the region was of great social and economic interest in Great Britain for two major reasons. The peasant class in Britain’s Caribbean colonies, which had risen steadily following full emancipation in 1838, had shown little interest in the global market until the last two decades of the nineteenth century, a fact that forced...

  3. CHAPTER 2 Structure, Strategy, and Rhetorical Parameters in Caribbean Expression
    (pp. 30-79)

    First, a conversion: in the 1960s the anthropologist Roger Abrahams conducted fieldwork in Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and Tobago. In a pioneering attempt to apply Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical method to the analysis of the folklore and expressive culture that he observed in the region, he theorized that “the carrying out of rhetorical intent [or motive as symbolically enacted in specific genres] resides in the ability of the item and the performer to establish a sense of identity between a ‘real’ situation and its artificial embodiment.”¹ Responding, as it were, to Burke’s growing popularity in the social sciences, Abrahams rationalized...

  4. CHAPTER 3 From the Darker Side of a Schism: PERFORMANCE AND THE PROPHETIC MASQUE
    (pp. 80-102)

    The Caribbean rhetor’s expressions of language, culture, and identity articulate an ethos that grows out of the internalization and subsequent externalization of rhetorical strategies, practices, and tradition as public performance; each performance embodies the idea thatwho feels it, knows it, andwho knows it, tells it. Consistent with the operation of the carnivalesque in the conception of cultural identity and rhetoric, the music of Caribbean people is a collaboratively composed record of Caribbeanness, of the ways in which knowledge is created, distributed, appropriated, manipulated, and then redistributed as tradition on public display in the shifting and constraining contexts of...

  5. CHAPTER 4 “We Is People”: EARL LOVELACE, ETHOS, AND A RHETORIC OF VERNACULAR FICTION
    (pp. 103-127)

    The epic of Caribbean history and its long, literary stretch into contemporary times together signify an extended rhetorical situation, producing authors whose concern for their communities and constituents is founded on their desires for the authentic enactment of independence—that is, liberation and participation as recognized and recognizable members of society despite resistance from the ruling class. As I mentioned earlier, the French-inspired Carnival of the nineteenth century, functioning originally in jest as a temporary social leveler among the plantocracy, had become significantly less frivolous in light of an emergent Caribbean identity following emancipation. Jest had become mockery. Mockery had...

  6. CHAPTER 5 Inhabiting the Digital Vernacular: THE OLD TALKERS, THE CARIBLOGGERS, AND THE JAMETTES
    (pp. 128-154)

    For Caribbean people, who have emerged collectively from a history of fragmentation and coalescence, the notion of a “virtual community” ought to be passé;¹ at the very least, it ought to be fairly easy to conceive, if only because they have traditionally had to contend with presuppositions about their ability to cohere on a complex vernacular level while devising alternative means of expression to ensure that kind of activity. The way Caribbean users conceptualize and articulate their online activity thus relates closely to the frames and features they employ in everyday offline contexts. Relatedly, the texts they produce are undergirded...

  7. CONCLUSION; Or, Reprise for the Carnivalesque
    (pp. 155-166)

    Labor Day. Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 1999: that memory of myself in blue—with fork and horn and tail—brings with it a nagging question. What is the value of intuition without inquiry, and what merit is there in remembering if action is not forthcoming? This was a call to which I could have provided only a partial response. I quickly decided that the time for critical reflection was not in the midst of a bacchanal. The memory is still a good one—if also a bit sad—but was it just a dragon dance I was dancing? Perhaps. All the...