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Creole Indigeneity

Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean

2012
Author:

Shona N. Jackson

Creole Indigeneity

How Creoles refashioned the techniques of settler power and used the principle of labor to become the Caribbean’s new “natives”

During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In Creole Indigeneity, Shona N. Jackson investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies.

Shona Jackson’s Creole Indigeneity breaks open a long-standing conundrum on the relationship between diasporan blacks and the modes of indigeneity with which they are both intersected with and/or located as oppositional to by dominant discourses in the West. Simply put, it is must-reading for all scholars of blackness and the African Diaspora because she does indeed ‘illuminate those interwoven histories beneath the surface’ that inform our broad and deeply complex ancestries.

Michelle M. Wright, Northwestern University

During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In Creole Indigeneity, Shona N. Jackson investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies.

Looking particularly at the nation’s politically fraught decades from the 1950s to the present, Jackson explores aboriginal and Creole identities in Guyanese society. Through government documents, interviews, and political speeches, she reveals how Creoles, though unable to usurp the place of aboriginals as First Peoples in the New World, nonetheless managed to introduce a new, more socially viable definition of belonging, through labor. The very reason for bringing enslaved and indentured workers into Caribbean labor became the organizing principle for Creoles’ new identities.

Creoles linked true belonging, and so political and material right, to having performed modern labor on the land; labor thus became the basis for their subaltern, settler modes of indigeneity—a contradiction for belonging under postcoloniality that Jackson terms “Creole indigeneity.” In doing so, her work establishes a new and productive way of understanding the relationship between national power and identity in colonial, postcolonial, and anticolonial contexts.

Creole Indigeneity

Shona N. Jackson is associate professor of English at Texas A&M University.

Creole Indigeneity

Shona Jackson’s Creole Indigeneity breaks open a long-standing conundrum on the relationship between diasporan blacks and the modes of indigeneity with which they are both intersected with and/or located as oppositional to by dominant discourses in the West. Simply put, it is must-reading for all scholars of blackness and the African Diaspora because she does indeed ‘illuminate those interwoven histories beneath the surface’ that inform our broad and deeply complex ancestries.

Michelle M. Wright, Northwestern University

Creole Indigeneity

Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. Creole Indigeneity
2. Labor for Being: Making Caliban Work
3. "God’s Golden City": Myth, Paradox, and the Propter Nos
4. From Myth to Market: Burnham’s Co-operative Republic
5. The Baptism of Soil: Indian Belonging in Guyana
Conclusion: Beyond Caliban, or the "Third Space" of Labor and Indigeneity

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Creole Indigeneity

UMP blog - Belonging and native Caribbean identity.

This book springs from two disavowals and a sense of deep longing. The first disavowal occurred growing up in Guyana where I was born. Many Guyanese, collectively Creoles, are mixed but we are taught to assert our black or Indian (descended) identity to the exclusion of its composite parts—so I was raised to see my self as black despite the obvious Indian and Amerindian (native) ancestry in our family.

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