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CIJLTlJIlAL IDENTITY AND CINEMATIC REPRESENTATION
Both the new 'Caribbean cinema', which has now joined the company of the other 'Third Cinemas', and the emerging cinemas of Afro-Caribbean blacks in the 'diasporas' of the West, put the issue of cultural identity in question. Who is this emergent, new subject of the cinema? From where does it speak? The practices of representation always implicate the positions from which we speak or write - the positions of enunciation. What recent theories of enunciation suggest is that, though we speak, so to say 'in our own name', of ourselves and from our own experience, nevertheless who speaks, and the subject who is spoken of, are never exactly in the same place. Identity is not as transparent or unproblematic as we think. Perhaps, instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished historical fact, which the new cinematic discourses then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a 'production' which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation. But this view problematizes the very authority and authenticity to which the term, 'cultural identity', lays claim. In this paper, then, I seek to open a dialogue, an investigation, on the subject of cultural identity and cinematic representation. The 'I' who writes here must also be thought of as, itself, 'enunciated' . We all write and speak from a particular place and time, from a history and a culture which is specific. What we say is always 'in context', positioned. I was born into and spent my childhood and adolescence in a lower-middle class family in Jamaica. I have lived all my adult life in England, in the
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" New forms of cultural practice in these societies address themselves to this project for the very good reason that.FIIANEWORJ( No 36 shadow of the black diaspora . underestimate or neglect the importance of the act of imaginative re-discovery." underlying aU the other. which peopre with a shared history and ancestry hold incommon.tke esaenat. with stable. beyond self-contempt. the rediscovery of this identity is often the object of what Franz Fanon once called a "passionate research . earlier in the century. and distorts. It is this identity a Caribbean dDe. It continues to be a very powerful and creative force in emergent forms of representation amongst hitherto marginaUsed peoples. is the trua. By a kind of perverted logic. 'one people'. Within the terms of this definition. for a moment. WRETCHED OF THB EARTH. Hthe paper seems preoccupied with the diaspora experience and its narratives of dis-placement.ma ·Ulust discover. like Aimee Ceasire and Leopold Senghor.. hiding inside the many other. It lay at the centre of the vision of the poets of ~egritude' . more superficial or artifidally imposed 'selves'. bringing to light the hidden continuities it suppressed? Or is a quite different practice entailed . excavate.cl1fferenca.. it turns to the past of the oppressed people. some very beautiful and splendid era whose existence rehabilitates us both in regard to ourselves and in regard to others. p170. shared culture.. In post-colonial societies. of 'Cartbbeaness'. resignation and abjuration. bring to light and express through cinematic: representation._. our cultural ideotitiee reflect the common hi8torical experiencet and . 1963). what is the nature of this 'profound research' which drives the new forms of visual and cinematic representation? Is it only a matter of unearthing that which the colonial experience buried and overlaid. it is worth remembering that all discourse is 'placed'. as Fanon puts it. This . I write against the background of a lifetime's work in cultural studies. The question which Fanon's observation poses is..el of our actual hietory.directed by the secret hope of discovering beyond the misery of today.not the rediscovery but the production of identity? Not an identity grounded in the archaeology. Such a conception of cultural or national identity played a critical role in all the post-colonial struggles which have so profoundly reshaped our world. "On National Culture".. disfigures and destroys it". The first position defines 'cultural identity' in terms of the idea of one. a sort of collective 'one true self. .. unchanstnl and «mtinuous frameaofreference and ~beneath the tbifting dlvla10ns and. There are at least two different ways of thinking about "cultural identity'. and the heart has its reasons. more superl1cla1.harecl cultural cod_ wlUchprovide ut. vidlsitud. but in the re-telling of the past? We cannot and should not. in the recent past. 'Hidden histories' have played a critical role in the emergence of some of the most important social movements of our which PAGE Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) wayne State University Press Company 69 . and of the Pan-African political project. (Fanon."in the belly of the beast" .. "Colonisation is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native's brain of all form and content.
after all. they undergo constant trans-formation. with which to confront the fragmented and pathological ways in which that experience has been re-constructed within the dominant regimes of cinematic and visual representation of the West. Cultural identity. Africa is the name of the missing term. which qualifies. the 'loss of identity'. is a testimony to the continuing power of this conception of identity within the practices of representation. the narratives of the past. slavery and migration. transcending place. like everything which is historical. the Caribbean. which lies at the centre of our cultural identity and gives it a meaning which. Such texts restore an imaginary fullness or plenitude. It belongs to the future as much as to the past. Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past. attempt to reconstruct in visual terms "the underlying unity of the black people whom. His photographs of the peoples of The Black Triangle. will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity. His Triangle is. which has been integral to the Caribbean experience only begins to be healed when these forgotten connections are once more set in place. there are also critical points of deep and significant difference which constitute 'what we really are': or rather . with any exactness. can fail to understand how the rift of separation. It is not something which already exists. a related but different view of cultural identity. they are subject to the continuous 'play' of history. about 'one experience. They are resources of resistance and identity. and position ourselves within. as well as the many points of similarity. There is.'what we have become'. the great aporia. the and the UK. We cannot speak for very long. The ways we have been positioned P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Leamlug (c) wayne State University Press Company AGE 70 . It is only from this second position that we can properly understand the truly traumatic character of 'the colonial experience'. taken in Africa. He does this by representing or 'figuring' Africa as the mother of these different civilisations. the first. This second position recognises that. history and culture. Far from being grounded in a mere 'recovery' of the past. 'centred' in Africa. The photographic work of a visual artist like Arrnet Francis. colonisation and slavery distributed across the African diaspore. to set against the broken rubric of our past. which is waiting to be found. one identity'. which is the history of all enforced diasporas. the Caribbean's 'uniqueness'.since history has intervened . culture and power. Cultural identities come from somewhere. without acknowledging its other side . have histories. identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by. in the light of the history of transportation. in this second sense. and which. But. however.time. No one who looks at these textual images now. Crucially." His text is an act of imaginary re-unification. until recently. his images find a way of imposing an imaginary coherence on the experience of dispersal and fragmentation. when found. is a matter of 'becoming' as well as of 'being'. even if it does not replace. a Jamaican-born photographer who lived in Britain since the age of eight. it lacked. precisely. time.the differences and discontinuities which constitute.
as the fatal couplet. without horizon. not only as a matter of imposed will and domination! the power of inner compulsion and subjective con-formation to the norm. lying unchanged outside history and culture. That the . It is not a fixed origin to which we can make some final and p Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and T.of Fanons insight into the colon ising experience I~. It is quite another thing to subject them to that 'knowledge'. it our conception of what 'cultural identity' In this perspective. 'power / knowledge'. It is one thing to place some person or set of a the Other of a dominant discourse. not external. WRETCHED OF THE EARTH. WHITE MASKS. in Fanons vivid ndivid without an anchor. rootless" a race of . This expropriation of cultural identity cripples and are not resisted. were not They had the power to make us see and experience ou as 'Other' Every regime of representation a regime of power formed. colourless. p176). Nevertheless. (Fanon.and subject-ed in the dominant regimes of representation were a cultural power and normalisation.earning Company (c) Wayne State Lniverciey Press c. it not some universal and transcendental spirit inside us on which history has made no fundamental mark. And kind of know is internal.the sombre majesty . cultural identity is not a fixed essence at all. they produce. It is not once-and-for-all. '71 .
in and alongside continuity. the put. languages and gods. persists . We might think of b)'hYQ . not one.ltural continuity. not only for the past but in the present. theIe two axes. Not an essence but a positioning. It is something . hiltory •• ucl\I..'Jaw of ~.not a mere trick of the imagination. The leCond reminds us that what we share is precisely the experience of a profound discontinuity.THIID SCEH"IIO:CUlTUI"L IDENTITY absolute Return.though when that supply ended. narrative and myth. The one gives us some grounding in.fewmoments '&a11aecI' "tory. ldentities always it is~. as 'the Dark Continent'. either. The past continues to speak to us. Cultural identities are the points of identification. villages. To return to the Caribbean after any long absence is to experience again the shock of the 'doubleness' of similarity and difference. some continuity with. it is not a mere phantasm. like the child's relation to the mother. which are made.. you suddenly see. but a proliferation of gods.already figured. This neglected fact explains why. in the same moment as it cut them off from direct access to that past. therefore.. symbolically inscribed in the faces of their peoples. It has its histories .II'Ie. or v~fsiDtu1taneously operative: PAGE 72 Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) Wayne State University Press Company . say. As a Jamaican returning for the First Caribbean Film Festival. But this is no longer a simple. since our relation to it is. fac. and unsettUng. it was temporarily refreshed by indentured labour from the Asian sub-continent. I 'recognised' Martinique instantly. though I was seeing it for the first time. when you visit Guyana or Trinidad. have to be thought olin terms of the dialogic relationship betw . fantasy. The peoples dragged into slavery by the triangulat Atlantic trade came predominantly from Africa . African religion. These gods live on. alwa)'8"already 'after the break'. is precisely different from Christian monotheism in having. and the YectoJ:.of difference and rupture. Difference.~vlewofca. Hence. tribal communities. 01 C01. The paradox is that it was the uprooting of slavery and transportation and the insertion into the plantation economy (as well as the symbolic economy) of the Western world that 'unified' these peoples across their differences. transcen- dental . the paradoxical 'truth' of Christopher Columbus's mistake: you can find Asia' by sailing west. there is always a poUtkI of poait:ion. And this is so.tual'pur. in an underground existence. which has been so profoundly formative in Caribbean spiritual life. But tradhlillformationt. Jamaica: and this is no mere difference I C~~. It is always constructed through memory. I also saw at once how different Martinique is from.. in the pantheon of black Saints which people the hybridised religious universe of Latin American Catholicism. material and symboUc effects. if you know where to look! The great majority of slaves were from Africa .famWar. theYectofijf'lIIIIarit)' and ean . within the discourses of history and culture. the unstable points of identification or suture..and histories have their real. But they were also from different countries. in the European imaginary. which baa no absolute guarantee in an unproblematic.'~".
To capture this sense of difference which is not pure 'otherness'. Moreover. We are at the outer edge. One trivial example is the way Martinique both is and is not 'French'. Vis-a-vis the developed West. Superficially.differential points along a sliding scale. the boundaries of difference are continually repositioned in relation to different points of reference. on the one hand. political and cultural dependency differently. They become.mutually excluding categories: but also.for those who can afford to be in any sort of fashion at all.has been profoundly formative. is already inscribed in our cultural identities.always 'South' to someone else's El Norte. Fort de France is a much richer. vis-a-vis other Latin American people. Derrida uses the anomalous a in his way of writing 'difference' . to describe this play of 'difference' within identity? The common history . etc . On the other hand. colonisation . 'them/ us'. Barbadian. times. At different places. a sophistication which. metaphorically as well as literally. the 'rim'. We belong to the marginal. is always transgressive. as a simple. a trans-Iation. at times.FI"WEWOIJ( No 36 of topography or climate. but itself at a point of transition between being 'in fashion' in an Anglo-African and Afro-American way .transportation. cinematically. And yet. Yet. How. At the same time. Each has negotiated its economic. it is this negotiation of identity which makes us. vis-a-vis one another. the periphery. the 'Other'. Cuban. we do not stand in the same relation of 'otherness' to the metropolitan centres. slavery. not only what they have. certainly been .'past/present'. I use the word 'play' because the double meaning of the metaphor is important. the under-developed. different. This cultural 'play' could not be represented. then. Haitian.. It sets PAGE Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Leamlug (c) wayne State University Press Company 73 . Its complexity exceeds this binary structure of representation.. It is also a profound difference of culture and history. And the difference matters. It suggests. Guadeloupean. the permanent unsettlement. what is distinctively 'Martiniquais' can only be described in terms of that special and peculiar supplement which the black and mulatto skin adds to the 'refinement' and sophistication of a Parisian-derived haute couture: that is.differance .as a marker which sets up a disturbance in our settled understanding or translation of the concept. in relation to different questions. what they sometimes are . Caribbeans . the boundaries are re-sited. with a very similar history. of the metropolitan world . the instability. Jamaican. because it is black. we need to deploy the play on words of a theorist like Jacques Derrida. it reminds us that the place where this 'doubleness' is most powerfully to be heard is 'playing' within the varieties of Caribbean musics. more 'fashionable' place than Kingston which is not only visibly poorer. It was also. It positions Martiniquains and Jamaicans as both the same and different. the lack of any final resolution. The inscription of difference is also specific and critical. In tum. we are very much 'the same'. Its Antillitnnes: 'islanders' to their mainland.. whether we like it or not. binary opposition . And this 'difference'.
Presence Europeanne. most ambiguous. by the play of signification. as such..THIRD SCENAR'O:CUlTUItAl IDENTITY the word in motion to new meanings without obscuring the trace of its other meaings." Without relations of difference. rather than an arbitrary and contingent 'ending'. with this conception of 'difference'. depends on the contingent and arbitrary stop . Language depends on difference. Whereas. Apparently silenced beyond P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) wayne State University Press Company AGE 74 . and its true meaning. This does not detract from the original insight. additional or supplementary meanings. as Christopher Norris puts it. It is possible. thus "remains suspended between the two French verbs 'to differ' and 'to defer'(postpone). seriaUsed. 1987. which evacuates it of its political meaning. so to speak. There is always something 'left over'. no representation could occur. in my view. Where. I understand every such position as 'strategic'." (Norris. And arbitrary. perhaps to the point of an endless supplementarity. presence of all the sliding term. beyond the arbitrary closure which makes it. does identity come in to this infinite postponement of meaning? Derrida does not help us as much as he might here .either an excess or a supplement. to rethink the positionings and re-positionings of Caribbean cultural identities in relation to at least three 'presences'. is in the extent to which 'differ' shades into 'defer' . not in its 'first-world' sense .. both of which contribute to its textual force but neither of which can fully capture its meaning. Where Derrida breaks new ground .the necessary and temporary 'break' in the infinite semiosis of language. possible. the idea that meaning is always deferred. which makes meaning possible . and the third.. 'Presence Africaine' is the site of the repressed.as a natural and permanent. p1S) "disturb the classical economy of language and representation.the structure of distinctive propositions which make up its basic economy. Meaning continues to unfold. here. but in the second. the New Found Land.. in any specific instance. staggered. in the sense that there is no permanent equivalence between the particular sentence we close. It is always either over . 'Presence Americain'. p32). His sense of differance. then. he has permitted his profound theoretical insights to be re-appropriated into a celebration of formal 'playfulness'.. as Saussure showed . as Norris puts it eleewhere (Norris.this positioning. It only threatens to do so if we mistake this 'cut' of identity .. Terra Incognita. 1982. But what is then constituted within representation is always open to being deferred.. I mean America. For if signification depends upon the endless re-positioning of its differential terms..or undetermined .the big cousin to the North whose 'rim' we occupy. but keeps on moving to encompass other. which. the 'New World'.and this is precisely where. broader sense: America. at any moment. to borrow Aimee Cesaire' s and Leopold Senghor's metaphor: Presence Africaine. This second sense of difference chaDenges the fixed binaries which stabilise meaning and representation and show how meanins is never finished or completed in this way. meaning.
It is the secret code with which every Western text was 're-read'. in the stories and tales told to children. musics and rhythms of slave and post-emancipation society. must sooner or later come to terms with this African Presense. in the spiritual life. music.FRAMEWOR" No 36 memory by the power of the new cultures of slavery. It is the presence/absence of the 'otherness' of Africa. although almost everyone around me was some shade of brown or black (Africa 'speaks'!).all must look 'Presense Africaine' in the face. or as having been at some time in the past. But whether it is. at home and abroad. in fact present everywhere: in the everyday life and customs of the slave quarters. in that sense. The original 'Africa' is no longer there. When I was growing up as a chUd in Kingston. I never once heard a single person refer to themselves or to others as. 1976). in this sense. irreversible. white . precisely. In this historic moment. But. 'African'. the figures or signifiers. it was. in some way. often disconnected from their taxonomies. I was surrounded by the_igM. is more open to doubt. Africa. as we might say. the great majority of Jamaicans discovered themselves to be 'black' . in names and words. It is 'hiding' behind every verbal inflection. which only existed as a result of a long and discontinuous series of transformations. every narrative twist of Caribbean cultural life. made directly. (Hall. return. crafts. It too has been transformed. remained the unspoken.the' Africa' that "is alive and well in the diaspora". Africa. in the languages and patois of the plantations. the civil rights struggles. and could not be. This is a 'new' Africa. the signified which could not be represented. an origin of our identities. 'Africa'. cultural and political metaphor. in the Caribbean. however. transportation.as a spiritual. now. unchanging past'. to which we could in any final or literal sense. was not. of a new construction of 'Jamaican-ness'.just as they discovered themselves to be the sons and daughters of 'slavery'. This profound cultural discovery. It could only be made through the impact on popular life of the post-colonial revolution. Black. unchanged by four hundred years of displacement. necessarily 'deferred' . in religious practices and beliefs. 'normalises' and appropriates Africa by freezing it into some timeless zone of the 'primitive. in the secret syntactical structures through which other languages were spoken. the culture of Rastafarianism and the music of reggae . Everyone in the Caribbean. History is.is . This was . Africa must at last be reckoned P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) Wayne State University Press Company AGE 75 . unspeakable 'presence' in Caribbean culture. We must not collude with the West which. mulatto. as part of a spiritual journey of discovery that led. dismemberment. the arts.the metaphors. in this form. It was only in the 1970s that this Afro-Caribbean identity became historically available to the great majority of Jamaican people. without 'mediation' . grounded in an 'old'. of whatever ethnic background. speak its name. brown. which made it also the privileged signifier of new conceptions of Caribbean identity. to an indiginous cultural revolution. and rhythms of this Africa of the diaspora.
ibid.through London and the United States. where Bishton's voyage of discovery first began. not in Ethiopia but with Garvey's statue in front of the St. where the first Rastafarian settlement was established. and 'beyond' . this is a matter. But it cannot in any simple sense be merely recovered. necessarily by the long route . BLACK HEARTMAN . but it ends in Pinnacle. This is our 'long journey' home. 'Europe' belongs irrevocably to the question of power.its length and complexity . we can't literally go home again. The European presense thus interrupts the innocence of the whole discourse of difference' in the Caribbean by introducing the question of power. This is the Africa we must return to but 'by another route': what Africa has become in the New World. Jamaica. (Said. the European Presense is that which. by Caribbean people. and the story of slavery. travel brochure and Hollywood and the I I P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQUl'st Infurmauon and Learning (c) wayne Stall' University Press Company AGE 76 . the literatures of adventure and exploration. Ann Parish Library in Jamaica. starts in England.) Our belongingness to it constitutes what Benedict Anderson calls "an imagined community". in visual representation has positioned us within its dominant regimes of representation: the colonial discourse. and goes. what we have made of 'Africa'. 'Africa' .the European Presense? For many of us.as we re-tell it through politics.and necessarily circular. In terms of colonialism.and endlessly speaking us. To this 'Africa'. through Sashamene. Derek Bishton's remarkably courageous visual and written text. which helps "the mind to intensify its own sense of itself between what is close to it and what is far away. troubling.among the dispossessed of twentieth century Kingston and the streets of Handsworth. the place in Ethiopia to which many Jamaican people have found their way on their search for the Promised Land. not yet in the Caribbean cinemas. underdevelopment. Europe was a case of that which is endlessly speaking .comes across vividly. to the lines of force and consent. which is a necessary part of the Caribbean imaginary. It 'ends'. This symbolic journey is necessary for us all. to what Edward Said once called an "imaginative . term in the identity equation . memory and desire. with the music of Burning Spear and Bob Marley' s Redemption Song. but in other texts. the romance of the exotic. Tony Sewell's text and documentary archival photographs.the story of the journey of a white photographer lion the trail of the promised land". It belongs us. What of the second. The character of this displaced 'homeward' journey . tells the story of a 'return' to an African identity for Caribbean people which went. Where Africa was a case of the unspoken. the tropical languages of tourism. not of too little but of too much. poverty and the racism of colour. GARVEy'SCHILDREN: THE LEGACY MARCUS OF GARVEY. to the pole of the dominant in Caribbean culture." It "has acquired an imaginative or figurative value we can name and .with. the ethnographic and travelling eye.
from Jamaica via New York.I Iandel Parris. finds the Promised Ethiopia from HI ~. Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) Wayne State University Press Company f . 1 Ii A I M« Land of Shashernene in I' '\ .
in Black Skin. I was indignant. . Dutch . but to locate that power u whoUy external to us . flxts. syncretised. to resolve.eaming (c) Wayne State University Press Company . but ever-present. In terms of popular cultural life. Not llast beyond the Middle Passage.a~ted.desire.80 to speak . the Hlothemess' of the self inscribed in the pervene palimpsest of colonial identity. finally. without terror. but in the ambivalence of i. Think. Now the fragments have been put together again by anothereelt.the primal scene where the fateful! fatal encounter was staged between Africa and the West. Jew. place. the 'empty land (the European colonisers emptied it) where strangers from every other part of the globe met. we can place it. is how its power is inside as well as outside: "the movements. put together in a new way. rather than being forever placed by it? Can we ever recognise its irreversible influence. pomopaphic= languages of prrjll and urban violence. traversing and intersecting our lives at every point. African. the Arawaks.an extrinsic force. whilst resisting its imperialising eye? The enigma is impossible. 'New World' Presence. for example. The error is not to conceptuaJise this 'presense' in terms of power.the place of the Other. It has to be understood as the place of displacements: of the original pre-Columbian inhabitants.. not so much in terms of power.~IC:eM"ofIDtegration where those other presences which it had actively were recomposed . as of ground. Who could describe this tense and tortured dialogue as a 'one way trip'? I think of the third. the harmonics in our musics to the ground-bass of Africa. It is the juncture-point where the other cultural tributaries met." (BSWM pl(9) This 'look'. but as the.. hoMility and aggression.. I demanded an explanation. Spanish. of refusal and recognition. Thi8 brinp us face. with and against 'Presence Europeenne' is almost as complex as the so-called' dialogue' with Africa. It is always-already creolised. It is always already fused. European.NTITY violent. The New World is the third term . Portugese. brown.THIRO S("fN"'IO:CUlTUaAL IOf.. I burst apart. dJa. pristine state. of the dialogue of every Caribbean film maker.of European and American film making. territory.to PAGE 78 Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 PI'OQuest Information and T. What Franz Fanon reminds us. Chinese. It is the space where the creolisations and assimilations and syncretisms were negotiated. The dialogue of power and resistance. it is nowhere to be found in its pure. in the sense in which a chemical solution is fixed by a dye. one way or another.re-framed. pxv). site of. East Indian. French. American. Jl()tebnply with the dominating European Pneense u the site or. Nothing happened. from . White MaW." (lntro to Fanon.black. It requires the most complex of cultural strategies.originally 'belonged' there. the attitudes.. whose influence can be thrown off like the serpent sheds its skin. not only in itsvtoltDc:e. with other cultural elements. proIOund splitting and doubling: what Homi Bhabba has called "the ambivalent identifications of the racist world" . white. so far. the glances of the other fixed me there. with the dominant cinemas of the 'West' . None of the people who now occupy the islands . How can we stage this dialogue so that.
as destiny. Thus I think of the New World Presence . There can be few political statements which so eloquently testify to the complexities entailed in the process of trying to represent a diverse peoples with a diverse history through a single.of travelling. 'Jamaica'. "Can the crushed and extinct Arawaks represent the dauntless character of Jamaicans? Does the low-slung. visible in the islands mainly in their museums and archeological sites. Peter Hulme. for example. Seaga's invitation to the Jamaican people. This is the old. is the Hispanic form of the indigenous Arawak name of the island . voyaging. its suppressions. it is the signifier of migration itself . I use this term here metaphorically. 9.a deferred. rhetorically (JAMAICA HANSARD. metonuymic. which chose. no3. We have seen the fate of the people of Palestine at the hands of this backward-looking conception of diaspora . which consists of two Arawak figures holding a shield with five pineapples. of the Antillean as the prototype of the modem or post-modern New World nomad. Fortunately.America. a cold-blooded reptile. not literally. and return as fate. hegemonic 'identity'. the hegemonising. The Arawak 'presence' remains a ghostly one. soaring spirit of Jamaicans?" Prime Minister Seaga asked. of peoples displaced in different ways from Africa. I do not mean those scattered tribes whose identity can only be secured in relation to some sacred homeland to which they must at all costs return.'land of wood and water' . surmounted by an alligator. Terra Incognita .as itself the beginning of diaspora. cit). 1987) reminds us that the word. It stands for the endless ways in which Caribbean people have been destined to 'migrate'. vol. symbolise the warm.FRAMEWOItj( No 36 permanently displaced from their homelands. continually moving between centre and periphery. instead. but it is one of our defining themes. Presence Americaine also has its silences. and is destined to cross the narrative of every film script or cinematic image. the figure of Diego Pimienta. p363: 1983-4. form of 'ethnicity'.which Columbus' re-naming eSantiago') never replaced. colonisation and conquest. sly and sliding representation of Jamaican identity if ever there was one! Peter Hulme recounts the story of how Prime Minister Edward Seaga tried to alter the Jamaican coat-of-arms. even if it means pushing other people into the sea. "an African who fought for his Spanish masters against the English invasion of the island in 1655" . to start their 'remembering' by first 'forgetting' something else. Asia and Europe. It is not represented in the emblem of the Jamaican National Heritage Trust. of diversity. who ar overwhelmingly of African descent.and the complicity of PAGE 79 Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQUl'st Infurmatiun and Learning (c) wayne Stall' Unh'Cfsily Press Company . the imperialising. Mr. near extinct crocodile. This preoccupation with movement and migration Caribbean cinema shares with many other 'Third Cinemas'. got the comeuppance it so richly deserved. part of the barely knowable or usable 'past'. Winter. Quoted in Hulme op. the displacements of slavery. in his essay on "Islands of Enchantment" (NEW FORMATIONS. of difference: as what makes Afro-Caribbean people already the people of a diaspora.
not as a second-order mirror held up to reflect what already exists. those islands of enchantment. and hence is the beginning of the symbolic. through transformation and difference. the reservoir of our cinematic narratives. not by essence or purity. the infinitely renewable source of desire. by a conception of 'identity' which lives with and through. memory. And yet. I have been trying. I have been trying to speak of identity as constituted. but by the recognition of a necessary heterogeneity. to put in playa different sense of our relationship to the past. disarticulating given signs and re-articulating their symbolic meaning.LTUa"l ID£NTITY the West with it. Young black cultural practitioners and critics in Britain are increasingly comin3 to acknowJedgeand explore in their work this 'diaspora aesthetic': Across a whole cultural forms there lsa 'syncretic' dynamic which critically appropriates eJernenta . of representation. which might begin to constitute new points of recognition in the discourses of the emerging Caribbean cinema. and thus a different way of thinking about cultural identity. The subversive. to go back to the beginning. of 'cut-and -mix'. search. syntactic and lexical codes. force of this hybrid ising tendency is most apparent at the level of language itself where creoles. to be one again with the mother.. diversity. Diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew." (Kohena Mercer. myth. and hence of cinema. not outside but within representation. discovery .the nation-language of masterdiscourse . Communities.toDlthe master<odes of:the dominant culture and 'creolises' f them.in short. pigmentation. Who can ever forget. reaccentuations and other performative moves in semantic. which is the heart and soul of black music.through strategic inflections. difference. recreating the endless desire to return to 'lost origins'. One can only think here of what is uniquely> 'essentially' . Benedict Anderson argues in Imagined Communities are to be distinguished. p57) It is because this 'New World' is constituted for us as place. patois and black English decentre. not by their falsity / genuineness. destabilise and camivalise the linguistic domination of 'English' . the 'blends' of tastes that is Caribbean cuisine.Caribbean: precisely the mixes of colour. not despite.it can neither be fulfilled nor requitted. II PAGE Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 PmQuest Information and Leamlug (c) wayne State University Press Company 80 . that it gives rise so profoundly to a certain imaginary plenitude.. phyiognomic type. (p15) This is the vocation of a modern Caribbean cinema: by allowing us to see and recognise the different parts and I ranse. when once seen rising up out of that blue-green Caribbean. in a series of metaphors. BLACKPRAMES. but by the style in which they are imagined.THlao SCiNAaIO:CI. a narrative of displacement. and thereby enable us to discover who we are. but as that form of representation which is able to constitute us as new kinds of subjects. the aesthetics of the cross-overs'. by hybridity. The diaspora experience as I intend it here is defined. to borrow Dick Hebdige's telling phrase. this 'return to the beginning' is like the Imaginary in Lacan .
justify and praise the action through which that people has created itself and keeps itself in existence. "with delving into the past of a people in order to find coherent elements which will counteract colonialism's attempts to falsify and harm . "We must not therefore be content". Fanon warns us.eaming (c) Wayne State University Press Company AGE 81 .. pl88) P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 PI'OQuest Information and T. A national culture is the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe.. A national culture is not a folk-lore.FRAMEWORK No 36 histories of ourselves." (TWOTE. to construct those points of identification. nor an abstract populism that believes it can discover a people's true nature.. those positionalities we call 'a cultural identity'...
CF .ntversfty Press Company A 82 .Ousrnane Sernbene P Copyright Copyright (c) 2006 ProQuest Information and Learning (c) Wayne State t.
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