Colonialism And Caribbean Identity

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As it has already been explained in the first chapter, the Caribbean islands were all colonies, mainly under the British government. Predictably, imperialism, colonialism and slavery deeply influenced the shaping of Caribbean identity, a process that started around the 60 and that influenced -and was influenced by- the struggle for independence from the Mother Country. It is true that each isle has its own differences and peculiarities in history, language, society etc., however, as a consequence of the common past as colonized countries, it is still possible to draw a general profile regarding identity. Colonization is based on an ideology of racial, cultural and psychological supremacy and hierarchy over a population. Feeling the necessity…show more content…
As a matter of fact, already from the very beginning -in ships that brought slaves from Africa to the Caribbean- people from the same tribe were kept separated and then, once arrived in the mainland, they were scattered and mixed with others in order to avoid possibility of communication and revolts. This, for example, dramatically destroyed the continuity of their social order as well as their communal way of life. Furthermore, the experience of slavery itself deprived them from any spirit of enterprise or even self confidence: they underwent a deep psychological transformation that left them at the mercy of the colonizer. (Hiro, 1991) It is, therefore, possible to talk about a proper “[…] loss of identity, which has been integral to the Caribbean experience […]” (Hall, 1990:224-5). Quoting Hiro (1991:74)
“[…] imperialist Europe had banished the abundant cultural heritage of Africans underneath centuries of slave trade. These oppressive, dehumanizing layers needed to be removed if black people were ever to liberate
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Anglicization took place in every aspect of Caribbean life: from names (e.g. Trafalgar Square in Barbados, Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey in Jamaica), to church and, above all, school. Caribbean pupils, for example, had to salute the Union Jack before starting the classes, British history and life in Britain were given importance over local ones. Particularly interesting in this context is the testimony of the Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipaul. Johnson, in an interview with Parolai (2009) reported that they were not taught anything related to their culture, anything that could make them appreciate their culture and their origins, adding that “[…] as negroes we sometimes appeared in short footnotes […] we were not self conscious about who we were and where we came from.” In his book “The Mimic Men”, an emblematic work regarding Caribbean identity, V. S. Naipaul through the memory of the protagonist says that pupils had to bring an apple to the teacher, and the interesting fact is that there were no apples in Isabella (the fictional place where he lives, a typical Caribbean city that could resemble, for example, Trinidad). Furthermore, he adds that due to this process of Anglicization that was taking place through education, schools were becoming a completed
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