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Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the

Anglophone Caribbean
Melanie J. Newton
Small Axe, Volume 17, Number 2, July 2013 (No. 41), pp. 108-122 (Article)
Published by Duke University Press
For additional information about this article
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small axe 41 July 2013 DOI 10.1215/07990537-2323346 Small Axe, Inc.
Returns to a Native Land:
Indigeneity and Decolonization
in the Anglophone Caribbean
Melanie J. Newton
History is the fruit of power, but power itself is never so transparent that its analysis becomes
superfuous. The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the
exposition of its roots.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past
This essay critically engages with writers who are justifably associated with the anglophone Carib-
beans decolonizing intellectual tradition.
1
I show that these writers reinscribed one of the Carib-
bean archipelagos foundational imperial mythsthe narrative of aboriginal disappearanceinto
some of their most visionary anticolonial texts.
2
Some of the writers discussed here claimed that
1 In the anglophone Caribbean, only Belize, Guyana, and Dominica have national legislation recognizing the rights of
aboriginal communities. Dominicas is the only anglophone Caribbean government that has ratifed the International Labor
Organisations Convention No. 169, Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (see www.ilo.org/
indigenous/Conventions/no169/lang--en/index.htm). See Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities
and Indigenous PeoplesDominica: Caribs, 2008, www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/49749d2f2.html (accessed 8 November
2011); and Brigitte Kossek, Land Rights, Cultural Identity, and Gender Conficts in the Carib Territory of Dominica, in
Ren Kuppe and Richard Potz, eds., Law and Anthropology (Dortrecht, the Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1994), 171201.
Many of the international instruments that protect the rights of indigenous people also protect the Caribbeans Maroon
communities as tribal people. See Fergus MacKay, The Rights of Maroons in International Human Rights Law, and
Kenneth Bilby, Maroon Autonomy in Jamaica, in Maroons in the Americas, special issue, Cultural Survival Quarterly 25,
no. 4 (2001), www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/254-winter-2001-maroons-americas.
2 This essay builds on scholarship that explores what it means to be aboriginal in the Caribbean. See, in particular, Maxi-
milian C. Forte, Ruins of Absence, Presence of Caribs: (Post)Colonial Representations of Aboriginality in Trinidad and
Tobago (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005); Maximilian C. Forte, ed., Indigenous Resurgence in the Carib-
bean: Amerindian Survival and Revival (New York: Peter Lang, 2006); Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters: Europe and the
41 July 2013 Melanie J. Newton
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109
new natives, predominantly Africans and their descendants, replaced the original Antilleans and
became indigenous to the Caribbean. Narratives of aboriginal absence and African indigeneity
strongly defne anglophone Caribbean studies.
Nothing I say here is intended to discredit the works that I discuss, which remain, in my view,
invaluable intellectual contributions to struggles for human liberation in the Caribbean and beyond.
Neither am I suggesting that Caribbean writing has focused too much on any one racial group.
I have no wish to contribute to the racialization of discourses of citizenship and belonging, and
I reject as fction any notion of racial or cultural purity.
3
My point is that, through incorporation
into anticolonial intellectual projects, colonizing forms of knowledge and power have covered up
their imperial roots, hiding in plain sight as they continue to shape how Caribbean people and
ideas circulate in the world as well as how Caribbean governments relate to their people. As the
late Michel-Rolph Trouillot argued, The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate
challenge, the exposition of its roots.
4
The Plantation and Modernity
In colonial narrations of history, colonized places enter the historical record when they become
useful to colonizing interests. Before that moment, the colonized and their lands are outside the
march of history, waiting to be discovered and put to marketable use. Framed in this way it is obvi-
ous what is wrong with such a reading of the past. However, an interpretation of Caribbean history
that strongly resembles the narrative outlined above is now entrenched in scholarship. According
to this approach, Caribbean history is defned by aboriginal absence, and the plantation marks the
Caribbeans entry into modernity.
5
In the 1930s Trinidadian intellectual C. L. R. James drew parallels between antislavery rebel-
lions, twentieth-century anticolonial struggles, and the battle against fascism.
6
In The Black Jaco-
bins, his 1938 masterpiece about the Haitian Revolution, James argued that the enslaved were the
frst proletariat, laboring in the worlds frst industrial system.
7
Before James, Marxists generally
ignored the plantation economys revolutionary nature and the forms of race and class identifcation
Native Caribbean (London: Methuen, 1986); Peter Hulme and Neil Whitehead, eds., Wild Majesty: Encounters with Caribs
from Columbus to the Present Day (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992); Kossek, Land Rights; and Samuel M. Wilson, ed., The
Indigenous People of the Caribbean (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997).
3 For example, in May 2008 Dominica Carib Chief Charles Williams, himself of mixed heritage, proposed a law
preventing Caribs from marrying non-Caribs so that Caribs could multiply and protect the race. Dominicas
government and other Carib leaders opposed the measure. See World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous
Peoples; Associated Press, 9 May 1998, reprinted by Maximilian Forte at zeroanthropology.net/2008/05/10/
dominica-carib-chief-seeks-legislation-barring-intermarriage.
4 Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston: Beacon, 1995), xix.
5 For a similar critique, see Shona N. Jackson, Creole Indigeneity: Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 2012). The narrative of aboriginal disappearance from Caribbean history is reproduced even
in the most recent updated editions of widely used introductory Caribbean history texts, such as Franklyn Knight, The
Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
6 C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint LOuverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938; repr., New York:
Random House, 1963).
7 See, for example, ibid., 8586.
Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean 110
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that it fostered because the workers were slaves; the plantations were supposedly precapitalist
and agricultural rather than industrial; and the locations were islands on the imperial periphery.
8
Like James, American anthropologist Sidney Mintz viewed the Caribbeans enslaved Africans
and Afro-creoles as precociously modern people. In 1971 Mintz described the Caribbean societies
as the oldest industrial colonies of the West, and argued that Caribbean societies were among
the most westernized of the modern world.
9
For Mintz, Caribbean history exemplifes the tragedy
and glory of the encounter of the entire non-Western world with the West. But in the Caribbean
case, it happened long before it did anywhere else, and under conditions that would prevent its
awful novelty from being recognized for what it was: a modernity that predated the modern.
10
Jamess The Black Jacobins and Eric Williamss Capitalism and Slavery pioneered analysis of
the Caribbean as a crucible of modernity, defned by the globalization and racialization of identi-
ties; unequal inclusion into a global economy; and the intensifcation of human mobility, over vast
distances and often under unfree conditions.
11
Caribbean historical scholarship has since dem-
onstrated the Caribbeans importance to the making of the modern world.
12
Rather than seeking
inclusion into the narrative of modernity, Caribbean intellectuals have built on the ideas of James
and Williams and reframed the historical terrain of the modern.
13
These insights are profound; nevertheless, as a decolonization of history, this approach has
limits. In the above formulation of history, a closed dialogue between the Caribbean and the colo-
nizing West structures the conversation about the modern. The central argument posits the
plantation and enslavement as the moment when certain people became historical actors through
their role as enslaved workers in a global capitalist economy. It is equally troubling that such a nar-
rative writes from history forms of Caribbean subjectivity that predated the plantation but that were
marginalized by plantation expansion.
Mintzs almost total silence on the subject of aboriginal people implies that they have not
played a signifcant role as historical actors in the post-1492 Caribbean.
14
David Scott typifes how
scholars have taken up Mintzs ideas:
On Mintzs telling of it, the frst chapter in the story of the Caribbean recalls the rapid genocidal
extermination of the native population. Within two hundred years of the Spanish Conquest at
8 Marx recognized the historical importance of slavery and emancipation but did not view enslaved people as potentially
revolutionary actors in their own right. See Karl Marx, Letter to P.V. Annenkov, 28 December 1846, quoted in Sidney
W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (London: Penguin, 1985), 6566, and Address of
the International Working Mens Association to Abraham Lincoln, Bee-Hive (London), 7 January 1865, reprinted in Robin
Blackburn, Marx and Lincoln: An Unfnished Revolution (London: Verso, 2011), 21112; and Walter Johnson, The Pedestal
and the Veil: Rethinking the Capitalism/Slavery Question, Journal of the Early Republic 24, no. 2 (2004): 299308.
9 Sidney W. Mintz, The Caribbean as a Socio-cultural Area, in Michael Horowitz, ed., Peoples and Cultures of the
Caribbean (Garden City, NY: Natural History, 1971), 36, 37.
10 Sidney W. Mintz, Enduring Substances, Trying Theories: The Caribbean Region as Oikomen, Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute 2, no. 2 (1994): 305.
11 Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (London: Andre Deutsch, 1964).
12 On this scholarly tradition, see Hilary Beckles, Capitalism, Slavery, and Caribbean Modernity, Callaloo 20, no. 4 (1997):
77789;
13 See, for example, Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean,
17871804 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
14 Mintz once described Caribbean people as the descendants of the aboriginal Amerind[ian] population, and of settlers who
came from Europe, Africa, and Asia. See Mintz, Sweetness and Power, xv.
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the turn of the sixteenth century the native people of the regionthe Arawaks of the Greater
Antilles and the Caribs of the Lesser Antilleshad ceased being a social, political, or ideological
force with which the colonial powers had to contend. As Mintz argues, this colossal destruction
of the indigenous population, this stripping away of the native modes of life that humanized
the landscape prior to the fatal European encounter, made the acculturational processes of
colonialism markedly different in the Caribbeandifferent, certainly, from the highland regions
of the New World mainland, and from Asia and Africa.
15
Scotts analysis refects how frmly historical narratives of the plantation as a modernizing force are
tied to claiming aboriginal absence. For Mintz, it was this lack of a precolonial base that made
the Caribbean important.
16
For most other anthropologists of the early to mid-twentieth century, the
Caribbean was too Western and too bereft of aboriginal cultures to be interesting. The study of
the aboriginal Caribbean was primarily the business of archeologists who believed that the societies
they studied were long gone.
17
In the 1980s anthropology began to embrace the Caribbean as a crucible and epitome
of creole culture(s) in the age of globalization.
18
If globalization, transnationality, and diaspora
were the new markers of culture, then the Caribbean was a harbinger of the modern condition.
Anthropologys appetite for all things creole from the Caribbean reached its apogee when James
Clifford proclaimed, We are all Caribbeans now in our urban archipelagos.
19
Cliffords adoption
of the Caribbean as the model of a new form of hybrid and heteroglot culture was dismissed by
sociologist Mimi Sheller as theoretical piracy on the high seas of global culture.
20
Cliffords proclamation exemplifes how Caribbean creolization theory became a framework
for analyzing the Western, possibly even universal, condition. Less often reprinted are the words
that follow his initial statement: We are all Caribbeans now in our urban archipelagos. Guinea (old
Africa, writes Aim Csaire) from your cry from your hand from your patience/ we still have some
arbitrary lands. ... Perhaps theres no return for anyone to a native landonly feld notes for its
reinvention.
21
Here Clifford references Martinican poet-politician Csaires 1939 poem Cahier dun
retour au pays natal.
22
Cliffords readiness to adopt the Caribbean as the epitome of globalizations
15 David Scott, Modernity That Predated the Modern: Sidney Mintzs Caribbean, History Workshop Journal 58 (January
2004): 200.
16 Refecting on 1960s Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History, Mintz observed that Puerto Rico and its people have
been part of the West for centuries. (If anything, the reason that anthropology took so long to get to societies like Puerto
Rico was because they were not primitive enough.) Mintz, The Sensation of Moving, while Standing Still, American
Ethnologist 16, no. 4 (1989): 791.
17 Pioneering archeologists such as Irving Rouse (19132006) agreed that the Spanish destroyed all of the indigenous com-
munities of the Greater Antilles by the mid-sixteenth century. See Irving Rouse, The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People
Who Greeted Columbus (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), 2425, 16972.
18 Quote from Aisha Khan, Journey to the Center of the Earth: The Caribbean as Master Symbol, Cultural Anthropology 16,
vol. 3 (2001): 271302. See also Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World (New
York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), 728.
19 James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1988), 173.
20 Ibid.; Mimi Sheller, Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies (London: Routledge, 2003), 193.
21 Clifford, Predicament of Culture, 173.
22 The frst English translation of Csaires poem, in 1947, called it Memorandum on My Martinique. In the 1963 edition of
The Black Jacobins, James rendered the title as Statement of a Return to the Country Where I Was Born (399). A 1968
translation was titled Return to My Native Land. Native land is the formulation that has been retained in subsequent
translations. Aim Csaire, Memorandum on My Martinique, trans. Ivan Goll and Lionel Abel (New York: Brentano, 1947);
Return to My Native Land, trans. Emily Snyder (Paris: Prsence Africaine, 1968).
Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean 112
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cultural impact stems in part from his understanding of the Caribbean as a place where return
to a native homeland is impossible. In the era of globalization, such a return is perhaps now
impossible for all people.
Cliffords interpretation of Csaires Cahier encapsulates assumptions that dominate English-
language narratives of Caribbean history. First, when native is invoked, the referent is typically
the Caribbeans irresolvable relationship to the African continent. Second, Clifford rehearses the
view that the Caribbean has no retrievable precolonial or aboriginal culture. When the Caribbean
is invoked as the metaphor for a modernity without aboriginality, it may become a threatening
symbol to those in other decolonizing sites who struggle against similar narratives of aboriginal
disappearance. Pacifc Islands anthropologist Vicente Daz refected on his own reactions to the
concept of creolization:
As early as the mid-1980s in graduate school, I bristled when classmates and professors
insisted that Indigenous cultural formations that I was studying in the Pacifc Islands region were
creolizations. In the ensuing decade, I found myself actively resisting cultural studies from the
Caribbean as a required model for work that I and colleagues would, nonetheless, champion
as a Native Pacifc cultural studies. ... The rub, I and other like-minded Pacifc Islander schol-
ars felt, had to do with an elision of specifcally Indigenous histories, central in Pacifc Islands
studies, and the marginality of specifcally Indigenous Pacifc Islander forms of knowledge
production in the US academic-industrial complex.
23
Emphasizing the radical Caribbean consciousness that emerged out of slavery decenters and de-
Westernizes modernity to some extent. However, this narrative of indigenous absence and planta-
tion modernity keeps us locked in to an intellectual conversation that measures Caribbean historys
importance by proving that the Caribbean helped to constitute the West rather than just the other
way around. Iterations of a Caribbean modernity based on the plantation and aboriginal absence
set up the Caribbean, in disturbing and historically inaccurate ways, as a place apart from the rest
of the Americas, as well as from other parts of the global South.
Calibans Caribbean Journey
In order to expose the colonial roots of this narrative of aboriginal disappearance, we turn now to a
text that has played a pivotal role in Caribbean anticolonial thought. The Tempest is simultaneously
an Atlantic World play shaped by early European colonialism in the Americas and a refection of
the geographic fuidity and racial multiplicity of early-seventeenth-century English understand-
ings of the world.
24
French-, English-, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean writers have taken up The
Tempestespecially the character Calibanin the context of decolonization.
25
Anthony Bogues
23 Vicente Daz, Creolization and Indigeneity, American Ethnologist 33, no. 4 (2006): 576.
24 Roxann Wheeler, My Savage, My Man: Racial Multiplicity in Robinson Crusoe, English Literary History, 62, no. 4 (1995):
82161.
25 On The Tempests place in anticolonial writing, see Rob Nixon, Caribbean and African Appropriations of The Tempest,
Critical Inquiry 13 (1987): 55778; Alden T. Vaughan, Caliban in the Third World: Shakespeares Savage as Sociopo-
litical Symbol, Massachusetts Review 29, no. 2 (1988): 289313; Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism
41 July 2013 Melanie J. Newton
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notes that Caliban has become the central anticolonial fgure of the twentieth-century anticolonial
nationalist period in the anglophone Caribbean.
26
In his 1960 The Pleasures of Exile, Barbadian George Lamming declared himself to be a
descendant of Caliban in the twentieth century, a colonial and exile, from his native kingdom,
once inhabited by Caliban. In the opening pages Lamming evokes Caliban as a symbol of the
aboriginal Caribbean and enslaved Africans: The slave whose kin suggests the savaged defor-
mity of his nature becomes identical with the Carib Indian who feeds on human fesh. Carib Indian
and African slave, both seen as the wild fruits of Nature, share equally that spirit of revolt which
Prospero by sword or Language is determined to conquer.
27
The web of intertwined African and
Carib historicity unravels a few pages later when Lamming asserts that the indigenous Carib and
Arawak Indians, living by their own lights long before the European adventure, gradually disappear
in a blind, wild forest of blood.
28
The Pleasures of Exile makes no further mention of the aboriginal
Caribbean. Lammings Caliban, whatever his origins as a fgure uniting and evoking Amerindian
and African histories of dispossession and insurgency, becomes a metaphor for a black diasporic
Caribbean experience. As Ania Loomba notes, Lamming eschews readings of The Tempest that
emphasize indigenous recovery.
29
Both preslave trade Africa and the aboriginal Caribbean
emerge and vanish in Lammings text as references to pre-, not modern, history.
In 1974 another Barbadian, the historian, poet, novelist, and philosopher Kamau Brathwaite,
dismissed the Caribs historical signifcance, claiming that their development did not involve them
signifcantly, during the colonial period, in social interaction outside their group. He argued that,
after Amerindians destruction, Afro-Caribbean peasants became the new bearers of indigenous
culture, possessing the potential of a real Alter-native Tradition since they have successfully
replaced the Amerindians as the folk or little tradition of the society.
30
In an analysis of Jamaicas
1831 Baptist War Brathwaite identifes Caliban as the black/slave rebel, trying, from cultural
impulse, to return to align himself with his submerged/maroon ancestral heritage as represented
by Sycorax, his mother.
31
By the 1990s anglophone Caribbean philosophers and cultural theorists
frmly identifed Caliban with an Afro-Caribbean intellectual tradition and experience. In 2004 Paget
Henry took The Pleasures of Exile as the basis for claiming, With the arrival of slaves from Africa,
Caliban became African.
32
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 38; and Jonathan Goldberg, Tempest in the Caribbean (Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 2004).
26 Anthony Bogues, Writing Caribbean Intellectual History, Small Axe, no. 26 (June 2008): 172.
27 George Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile (1960; repr., Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), 13.
28 Ibid., 17.
29 Loomba, Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism, 164.
30 Edward [Kamau] Brathwaite, Contradictory Omens: Cultural Diversity and Integration (Mona: Savacou, 1974), 29 (emphasis
mine). Contradictory Omens was Brathwaites response to Sylvia Wynters Jonkonnu in Jamaica: Towards an Interpreta-
tion of Folk Dance as a Cultural Process, Jamaica Journal 4, no. 2 (1970): 3448. I discuss this article in the fnal section.
31 Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Caliban, Ariel, and Unprospero in the Confict of Creolization: A Study of the Slave Revolt in
Jamaica in 183132, in Vera Ruben and Arthur Tuden, eds., Comparative Perspectives on Slavery in New World Plantation
Societies (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1977), 48.
32 Quotation from Paget Henry, Calibans Reason: Introducing Afro-Caribbean Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 2004), 5.
See also Anthony Bogues, Calibans Freedom: The Early Political Thought of C.L.R. James (London: Pluto, 1997).
Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean 114
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Calibans journey from being a fgure refecting the fuidity of racial and geographic differ-
ence in the early modern European imagination toward representations that are deeply invested
in identifying him as black began long before The Pleasures of Exile. The frst public performance
to connect Caliban unequivocally with enslavement took place in London in 1838, coinciding with
the end of British Caribbean apprenticeship. Over the next ten years popular London versions of
The Tempest tied Caliban frmly to slave emancipation in the Caribbean and the United States. In
one 1848 burlesque version, Caliban, echoing a famous abolitionist slogan, asks, Aint I a man
and a brother?
33
Representations of Caliban as an unambiguously black fgure have their origins
in the eighteenth- to mid-nineteenth-century antislavery debate.
34
Antislave trade agitator Thomas
Clarksons 1807 history of the British slave trade illustrates how abolitionists relegated aboriginal
enslavement to the era of Spanish hegemony.
35
James Stephen, one of abolitionisms most sophis-
ticated legal minds, distinguished British Caribbean from continental American slavery by exclud-
ing Indians, even though nothing in British Caribbean slave law explicitly protected aboriginal
Americans from enslavement.
36
When not viewed through the myopia of abolitionist historical simplifcations, Caliban may be
read as an antidote to the process by which metropolitan Britons wrote Indians out of Caribbean
history, and then replaced them with a new colonized native, the enslaved black. The plays
island setting recalls the Caribs 1605 destruction of the frst English settlement in the Lesser Antil-
les, in St. Lucia. In contrast to colonization policy in Virginia and the Guianas, the British in the
Lesser Antilles in the period between 1620 and 1660 refused to enter treaties with the Caribs, or
acknowledge them as the islands inhabitants.
37
The Tempest could be read as a veiled acknowledg-
ment that the Caribs had territorial claims that Europeans could never fully extinguish. Caliban is a
freeborn inhabitant of the island, and, despite the plays claim that this was necessary because of
his treachery, Caliban repeatedly confronts the plays audience and readers with an insistence that
the island was his even before his birth. Sycorax could be read as a Europeanization of aboriginal
33 Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, Shakespeares Caliban: A Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1991), 104106.
34 The Carib character Friday in Daniel Defoes 1719 Robinson Crusoe was also often depicted as a Negro in the novels
illustrations. However Fridays Negroization began in 1720, decades before abolitionisms rise, and symbolized the
appearance of the African-aboriginal people whom the British called the Black Caribs as well as Britons widespread
acceptance of black enslavement. See Roxann Wheeler, The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-
Century British Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 83.
35 Thomas Clarkson, History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade, by the
British Parliament, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: James P. Parke, 1808), 1:3339.
36 Stephen stated, Slavery in the West Indies is peculiar to Negroes, or the mixed issue of Negroes and Europeans. See
James Stephen, The Slavery of the British West India Colonies Delineated, as It Exists both in Law and Practice, and
Compared with the Slavery of Other Countries, Ancient and Modern, vol. 1, Being a Delineation of the State in Point of Law
(London: Joseph Butterworth and Son, 1824), 27. Granville Sharp was one of few abolitionists to protest the deplorable
slavery of Negroes and Indians. See Sharp to Lord North, 18 February 1772, in Prince Hoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp
(London: Leighton and Henderson, 1820), 79 (italics in original), quoted in Christopher L. Brown, Moral Capital: Founda-
tions of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 164. Sharp also opposed British policy
toward the Black Caribs. See Sharp to the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 10 October 1772,
reprinted in Hoare, Memoirs, 10912; and Hulme, Colonial Encounters, 24648, 254.
37 Melanie J. Newton, Geographies of the Indigenous: The Early Modern Lesser Antilles in Hemispheric Perspective (paper
presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Historians, Puerto Rico, May 2011).
41 July 2013 Melanie J. Newton
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115
creation stories that relate how, in a time before living memory, the frst ancestral spirits gave
indigenous people the responsibility and privilege to inhabit the archipelago.
38
At the same time, The Tempest foreshadows the fact that British Caribbean slavery came to
be associated almost exclusively with Africans and their descendants. The play never resolves the
question of whether Caliban is fully human.
39
His father sires him in a meaningless act of copula-
tion and disappears before his birththis constructs Caliban as either human but a bastard or
the result of an animal-like sexual union. Everything that Caliban inherits from Sycorax blurs the
boundary between human and animal and fts him for enslavement (a deformed and possibly animal
shape, lack of honor and civility, a servile yet violent nature, and unnatural sexual desires).
The open question of Calibans humanity mirrors a similar legal anthropological uncertainty
regarding slavery that dates back to Roman times. Roman law clearly understood the slave to be a
human, albeit a human of low status.
40
At the same time, the third-century Lex Aquilia and the sixth-
century Digest of Justinian upheld the principle that placed a mans four-footed animals on a level
with his slaves.
41
The Digest laid out the principle of partus sequitur ventrem (the condition of the
child follows that condition of the mothers womb), noting that it was a rule of nature: whoever is
born out of lawful wedlock follows his mother, unless some special statute provides otherwise.
42

Since Roman law did not recognize slave marriages, slave children were collectively illegitimate.
43

Children whose mothers were slaves at the time of conception and birth inherited their mothers
enslaved status and became the chattel property of their mothers owners.
44
In the case of children
born of free mothers, partus sequitur ventrem confrmed humanity, while the same principle reduced
the children of enslaved mothers to the status of cows and horses.
Beginning in the 1660s, Britains American colonies embraced the principle that the children
of female slaves were themselves enslaved. The frst colony to do so, Virginia, explicitly sanctioned
the matrilineal inheritance of legal status, but the 1662 Virginia statute did not specifcally refer-
ence partus sequitur ventrem. Even if Roman law was not the source of this colonial practice, the
slaves anthropological indeterminacy was equally a feature of English law. On the one hand, the
law of bastardy held that the child followed the mother but confrmed the childs humanity. On the
38 A Spanish priest, Ramn Pan, recorded such creation stories in Hispaniola in the 1490s. See Ramn Pan, An Account of
the Antiquities of the Indians, ed. Juan Jos Arrom (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999); and Antonio M. Stevens-
Arroyo, The Cave of the Jagua: The Mythological World of the Tanos (Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 2006).
39 Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall note that it is never clear whether Caliban is an animalized human or a humanized
animal. See Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall, Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People (Athens: University of
Georgia Press, 2000), 2.
40 The Latin word servus translates as either servant or slave. On the humanity of the slave in Roman law, see Jos
Andrs-Gallego, La argumentacin religiosa de la esclavitud en Amrica (paper presented at the Seventh Conference on
the Historical Study of Religion, Heresy, and Social Revolts in Europe and America, University of the Basque Country, Vito-
ria, Spain, 10 November 2005), 12; Colin Dayan, The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 157; and Herbert Klein, African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 57.
41 Opinion of Gaius on Provincial Edict 7, in The Digest of Justinian, vol. 2, trans. Charles Henry Monro (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1909), 117.
42 Opinion of Ulpianus on Sabinus 27, in The Digest of Justinian, vol. 1, trans. Charles Henry Monro (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1904), 27.
43 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 189.
44 Opinion of Marcianus, in Digest, vol. 1, 2425.
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other hand, chattel property law required that the increase [of domestic animals] go to the owner
of the mother.
45
The seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British Caribbean colonies adopted the principle
that legal status passed from mother to child but never confrmed or explained, in statutory law,
why they did so. Instead, it became customary legal practice for British Caribbean slaveholders
to assume that the principle of enslavement through the maternal line could apply to anyone who
had an enslaved female African or Indian ancestor. Slaveowners refusalor failureto explain
the adoption of matrilineality in determining legal status at birth left unresolved the fundamental
conundrum that Caliban posed: What manner of being is he, and on what basis is he enslaved?
English legal theorists never reached agreement as to whether slaves were slaves because Afri-
cans and Indians were bastard humans, because they were more like animals than other humans,
or because they were animals. Writing in the 1760s William Blackstone claimed that English law and
civil law agreed on the application of partus sequitur ventrem in regard to property, noting that in the
case of all tame and domestic animals, the brood belongs to the owner of the dam or mother. Yet
he did not resolve the anthropological uncertainly about whether slaves were fully human, stating
that for the most part in the human species [English law] disallows the maxim.
46
Like Blackstone,
slaveholders tried to have it both waysaccording to Elsa Goveia, eighteenth-century British
Caribbean law viewed slaves as a special kind of propertythat is, property in persons.
47
Abolitionists, too, remained silent on the issue of why the matrilineal inheritance of legal status
had endured for nearly two centuries. By the early nineteenth century white Britons generally used
the words slave and Negro more or less interchangeably, and treated Indians as a legally dis-
tinct category from blacks. This left Negroes uniquely exposed to the claim that they could be
enslaved because they were not human. The 1833 emancipation act carried the gendered principle
of enslaved matrilinealityand its inherent anthropological ambiguityforward, constructing black
freedom as a form of liberty inferior to that enjoyed by other people. The act exempted children
under six years old from apprenticeship when it went into effect on 1 August 1834. However, in
certain circumstances, it empowered magistrates to apprentice free children to the Person or
Persons entitled to the Services of the Mother of such Child, or who had been last entitled to the
Services of such Mother. This provision inscribed the dual possibilities that newly freed children
were human but illegitimate and that apprentices and their offspring were on par with farm animals.
48

British Caribbean emancipation preserved the anthropological ambiguity at the heart of slavery, just
as Prospero freed Caliban without acknowledging his humanity.
45 Thomas Morris, Southern Slavery and the Law, 16191860 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press), 4445. Morris
notes that the Virginia law did not contain the Latin phrase, nor did any Southern [US] statute to the end of slavery in
1865.
46 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. 2, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1768), 390 (emphasis mine).
47 Elsa Goveia, The West Indian Slave Laws of the Eighteenth Century (St. Lawrence, Barbados: Caribbean Universities Press,
1970), 21 (emphasis mine).
48 Geo. 3 and 4 Gulielmi IV, cap. LXXIII, An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for Promoting the
Industry of the Manumitted Slaves; and for Compensating the Persons hitherto Entitled to the Services of Such Slaves, 28
August 1833.
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117
Anglophone Caribbean Indigenism
I came to this topic after years of circling the word indigenous in essays from my Toronto under-
graduates, who repeatedly used it to describe black Caribbean people. This struck me as odd,
since my students were unlikely to refer to Canadas black population (the oldest segments of
which date back to the seventeenth century) as indigenous.
49
Eventually, I realized that my stu-
dents got this language from the materials that I gave them to read. I noticed how widely the word
indigenous is now deployed in Caribbean scholarship as a term for people and cultural forms of
nonaboriginal origin.
Indigenous frst appeared in English-language Caribbean scholarship in 1968, when Gordon
K. Lewis praised Eric Williams for engineer[ing] a remarkable marriage between the creole intel-
lectual and the colonial crowd, founded on his belief that in colonial societies searching for a new
identity politics and culture must travel hand in hand, so that the political leader also feeds the
intact indigenous culture.
50
Soon after, Williams himself wrote, Dependence on the outside world
in the Caribbean in 1969 is not only economic. It is also cultural, institutional, intellectual and psy-
chological. ... There is still no serious indigenous intellectual life.
51
In 1970 Jamaican playwright,
historian, and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter drew on the work of late Haitian ethnographer Jean
Price-Mars when she argued that Afro-Caribbean rural culture had become indigenous: The more
total alienation of the New World Negro has occasioned a cultural response, which had transformed
that New World Negro into the indigenous inhabitant of his new land. His cultural resistance to
colonialism in this new land was an indigenous resistance. The history of the Caribbean islands is,
in large part, the history of the indigenization of the black man.
52
Wynter constructed a genealogy
of Afro-Caribbean indigenization that began, in the Jamaican case, with a period of accultura-
tion between fugitive Africans and Indians under Spanish rule. She moved quickly to state that,
the Arawak Indians died out, leaving the Maroons to humanize their mountainous interior with
adaptations of their own culture. Wynter then observed that aboriginal culture died with the Indi-
ans, making it diffcult to speak of acculturation since it was largely the response of one culture
to new conditions. Clearly, this mention of early interactions between aboriginal Jamaicans and
Africans is only necessary so that Wynter can claim that there has been African peasant culture
in Jamaica from time immemorial.
53
Wynter argued that, with the English invasion in 1655, the Maroons took the place of the
Arawaks as defenders of the land from colonial invasion. Through the activities of Maroons, plan-
tation slaves, and, later, emancipated blacks, the African ... Rehumanized Nature, and helped to
49 Rinaldo Walcott challenges the Canadian literary establishments treatment of black writers as perpetual immigrant writ-
ers by arguing for the existence of an indigenous black Canadian space. See Rinaldo Walcott, Black Like Who? Writing
Black Canada (Toronto: Insomniac, 2003), 46.
50 Gordon K. Lewis, The Growth of the Modern West Indies (1968; repr., Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2004), 21920
(emphasis mine).
51 Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 14921969 (London: Andre Deutsch, 1970), 501
(emphasis mine).
52 Wynter, Jonkonnu, 35 (italics in the original).
53 Wynter, Jonkonnu, 36.
Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean 118
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save his own humanity against the constant onslaught of the plantation system by the creation of
a folklore and folk-culture. At the same time, the plantation system was fundamentally alienating,
seeking the conquest of Nature. This placed plantation slaves in a dual role, ambivalent between
two contradictory processes.
54
Wynter made the powerful claim that Jamaicas history exemplifed
a process through which enslaved Africans and their descendants overcame an alienation from
nature that was imposed on them by capitalist forces. They successfully recreated an intimate,
spiritual, and ancestral connection to the new land on which they lived, even though this was not
ancestrally African land.
55
Nevertheless, the imperialist assumptions that frame her reading of
African and aboriginal Caribbean interactions should now be clear. Rather than restating them, I
will explore the implications of Wynters interpretation of the term indigenous.
Indigenous became commonplace in anglophone Caribbean writing between the 1980s and
the 2000s, a time when the word was adopted worldwide by aboriginal rights organizations as
well as in international human rights law and scholarship on aboriginal peoples.
56
Through sheer
force of repetition, a specifcally anglophone Caribbean indigenism has severed the assumed link
between aboriginality and indigeneity. In contrast to trends at the international level and elsewhere,
anglophone Caribbean indigenism is characterized by the use of indigenous to describe people,
cultural forms, popular practices, and ideas that emerged in the Caribbean but are of post-1492
diasporic origin. It is now relatively commonplace to see phrases such as indigenous folk culture,
indigenous peoplehood, or indigenous feminist ideology applied to such diverse phenomena as
cricket, rural popular culture, radical grassroots politics, Afro-creole religions, or Caribbean feminist
thought.
57
When anglophone Caribbean scholars do deploy indigenous to discuss aboriginal people,
it is usually to observe that Europeans murdered them all.
58
A single work may even reference
the destruction of the regions indigenous Amerindians and then proceed to use indigenous to
describe Caribbean people of non-Amerindian ancestry.
59
The growth in the popularity of the term indigenous in Caribbean scholarship has happened
with little comment. Scholars do not tend to question the notion of aboriginal absence, nor do
they explain why they use indigenous as a descriptor for nonaboriginal people
60
or engage with
54 Ibid. (italics in the original).
55 See also Jacques Roumain, Les gouverneurs de la rose (1946; repr., Paris: Franais Runis, 1968).
56 In 1982 the United Nations established the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) under the UN Sub-Commis-
sion on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities. The WGIP drafted the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007. The UN declared 19942005 to be
the Decade of the Worlds Indigenous People, and 20052015 is offcially the second such decade (www.un.org/esa/socdev/
unpfi/en/history.html). The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established in July 2000. See Ronald Niezen,
The Origins of Indigenism: Human Rights and the Politics of Identity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 164.
57 Indigenous has become almost a synonym for creole, which is different from Wynters formulation. She viewed creoliza-
tion as a process of more or less false assimilation, whereas indigenization represents the more secretive process by
which the dominated culture survives; and resists. See Wynter, Jonkonnu, 39.
58 The following statement is quite representative: The absence, at a remarkably early stage of colonialism, of an indigenous
base is one of the most extraordinary, if not unique, features of Caribbean social formations. See Winston James, Holding
Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America (London: Verso, 1998), 13.
59 For these two uses of indigenous, see Patricia Mohammed, Towards Indigenous Feminist Theorizing in the Caribbean,
Feminist Review (Rethinking Caribbean Difference), no. 59 (Summer 1998): 633.
60 The exception is Shona N. Jacksons 2012 study Creole Indigeneity.
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119
archeological or anthropological work on the aboriginal Caribbean.
61
It is noticeable, however, that
scholars of the anglophone Caribbeans continental areas (Belize and Guyana) are far more cau-
tious about the term indigenous. In the case of Guyana, scholars reluctance to adopt indigenous
as a descriptor for coastlanders echoes the unique ways Guyanas national literary tradition has
engaged with the peoples and landscapes of the countrys Amazonian interior.
62
Particularly revealing is the contrast between the stealthy, unheralded, and yet widespread
deployment of indigenous in Caribbean scholarship, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the
much discussed, debated, and even celebrated use of diaspora. Like indigenous, diaspora has
grown in popularity since the 1980s. At many levels, indigenous and diasporic are each others
opposites in the realm of historical experience and contemporary theory. Yet they have come into
widespread use in Caribbean scholarship to describe the same people. For example, a recent article
describes Rastafari as one of the most authentically indigenous creations of Caribbean diasporic
culture.
63
It may be that this adoption of indigenous almost as a qualifer of diaspora signals schol-
ars reluctance to embrace diaspora as a liberating concept, perhaps because it cannot ultimately
be divorced from exile. The conceptual space of being for all eternity displaced people snatched
from elsewhere may be an uninhabitable theoretical zone, a perpetuation of an injustice inficted on
people who were not responsible for the imperial expansionism that brought them to the Americas.
The discursive intertwining of the diasporic and the indigenous since the 1960s refects a key
point of tension in mid-twentieth-century anticolonial nationalism. Caribbean intellectuals struggled
to close the gap between the celebration of their downtrodden diasporic origins and the assumption
on the part of nationalists of the era that the colonized were also natives who descended directly
from their countries precolonial inhabitants.
64
In an age when third world leaders based their
demands for sovereignty on claims to native birthright, the Caribbeans new anticolonial political
class and intelligentsia, composed predominantly of people of enslaved African and indentured
Indian descent, could not easily produce such inheritance claims. Nor have anglophone Caribbean
61 There is signifcant scholarly interest in St. Vincents Black Caribs; however, these studies invariably conclude that the
British exile of thousands of Caribs from St. Vincent in 1797 ended the Caribs contribution to Caribbean history. See Hilary
Beckles, Kalinago (Carib) Resistance to European Colonization of the Caribbean, Caribbean Quarterly 21, no. 1 (1987):
5577; Michael Craton, The Black Caribs of St.Vincent: A Reevaluation, in Robert L. Paquette and Stanley L. Enger-
man, eds., The Lesser Antilles in the Age of European Expansion (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996), 7185;
Philip Boucher, Cannibal Encounters: Europeans and Island Caribs, 14921763 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1992); J.Paul Thomas, The Caribs of St. Vincent: A Study in Imperial Maladministration, 17631773, Journal
of Caribbean History 18, no. 2 (1984): 6073; Alvin Thompson, Flight to Freedom: African Runaways and Maroons in the
Americas (Mona: University of the West Indies Press, 2006), 8384; Barry W. Higman, A Concise History of the Caribbean
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 14243; and Christopher Taylor, The Black Carib Wars: Freedom, Survival,
and the Making of the Garifuna (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012).
62 See, for example, Edgar Mittelholzer, The Kaywana Trilogy (London: New English Library, 195259); Jan Carew, The Wild
Coast (1960; repr., London: Peepal Tree, 2009); Wilson Harris, The Palace of the Peacock (London: Faber and Faber, 1960);
and Pauline Melville, The Ventriloquists Tale (London: Bloomsbury, 1997).
63 Holger Henke, Freedom Ossifed, in Holger Henke and Fred Reno, eds., Modern Political Culture in the Caribbean (Mona:
University of the West Indies Press, 2003), 123 (emphasis mine).
64 This is typifed in the writings of Octave Mannoni, Frantz Fanon, and Jean-Paul Sartre (in his introduction to Fanons Les
damns de la terre). All three use the terms indigne and autochtone (translated into English as native) interchangeably
with colonis/colonized. See Octave Mannoni, La psychologie de la colonisation (Paris: Seuil, 1950); Frantz Fanon, Les
damns de la terre (Paris: Franois Maspero, 1961).
Returns to a Native Land: Indigeneity and Decolonization in the Anglophone Caribbean 120
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countries been able to overcome fully the radical socioeconomic dispossession that has been the
legacy of the plantation economy.
65
The unrefective adoption of the term indigenous by Caribbean scholars is an attempt to fnd
a short cut through the entangled legacies of the past by collapsing the Caribbeans historical
trajectories of diasporization and aboriginality into one another. For those inclined to view such
language as harmless, the controversy that erupted over the use of indigenous in the 2006 Guyana
Amerindian Act might serve as a reminder of what power terminology can have in the real world.
Guyanas aboriginal people and indigenous rights groups have struggled for a democratic
engagement with their national government regarding the rewriting of the 1976 Amerindian Act.
In the years leading up to the passage of the 2006 act, the Guyanese government conducted a
series of consultations with Guyanas indigenous people.
66
Among the recommendations widely
supported by aboriginal Guyanese was that the new act be called the Indigenous Peoples Act
and that they be referred to as indigenous [people] rather than as Amerindians, a term that they
no longer believe is appropriate. The government systematically ignored the recommendations
from indigenous communities and argued that Indigenous Peoples is a very wide term that
means different things to different people. Everybody has a right under international law to defne
themselves as indigenous. The debate became a subject of international concern through the
intercession of the UK-based nongovernmental organization Forest Peoples Programme and the
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The UN Committee for the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination argued that the Amerindian Bill, which the government passed in 2006,
contravened international conventions on the collective rights of indigenous peoples and violated
international standards that sought to prevent state endorsement of racist policies.
67
There is no evidence that scholarly writing infuenced the Guyanese governments claim that
all Guyanese were indigenous. Nevertheless, Caribbean scholars have now left several decades
worth of writings that support the idea that indigenous is a term to which aboriginal Caribbean
people have no special claim, regardless of how it circulates elsewhere. The fact that this issue
erupted in Guyana, a Caribbean jurisdiction that recognizes aboriginal communities legal entitle-
ments, indicates the potential uses of anglophone Caribbean indigenism as a justifcation for the
erosion of indigenous rights.
65 George Beckford, Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopment in Plantation Economies of the Third World (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1972); Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays, trans. J. Michael Dash (1981; repr.,
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992), 18.
66 For a personal refection on this process, see Arif Christopher Bulkan, The Land Rights of Guyanas Indigenous Peoples
(PhD diss., Graduate Program in Law, York University, Toronto, 2008), 13.
67 See Request for Adoption of a Decision under the Urgent Action/Early Warning Procedure in Connection with the
Imminent Adoption of Racially Discriminatory Legislation by the Republic of Guyana and Comments on Guyanas State
Party Report (CERD/C/446/Add.1), 68th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Geneva, 20
February10 March 2006), Submitted by Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana and Forest Peoples Programme, 20
January 2006, 2324; www.forestpeoples.org/sites/fpp/fles/publication/2010/08/guyanacerduajan06eng.pdf.
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Toward an Original Geography
In Cahier dun retour au pays natal, Csaire declares, without apology, [I reclaim] my original
geography also: the map of the world drawn for my own use, not dyed with the arbitrary colours of
men of science but with the geometry of my spilt blood, I accept.
68
This concept of original geog-
raphy can serve as a starting point for approaches to the Caribbeans past that do not replicate
colonizing narratives about any group of people in order to demonstrate the humanity of others.
Thinking about the Caribbean as aboriginal space, and of indigeneity as a key site of struggle in
Caribbean history, gives scholars new ways to expose colonial forms of knowledge and power.
Part of such an original geography involves new intersections between Caribbean and
aboriginal studies. However the settler-aboriginal frameworks that shape analysis in North America
fail to account for the fact that most of those who came to the Caribbean were themselves the
displaced, racialized, and dispossessed victims of colonialism.
69
It is perhaps more productive to
start by asking why the Caribbean is generally ignored in discussions of aboriginality and indigeneity.
There is tacit agreement that the Caribbean is not aboriginal space. This is so despite the fact that
unknown but signifcant numbers of people across the Caribbean know themselves to be of partly
aboriginal ancestry, even if they do not seek or claim specifc recognition or rights as aboriginal
people. In this regard, the Caribbean is no different from other regions of the Americas.
I view the resilience of this aboriginal extinction narrative as a legacy of the racial taxonomies
created by European colonial regimes in the Americas. Europeans competed viciously for power
in the Western Hemisphere, but they all agreed that unity between enslaved Africans and aborigi-
nal Americans should be prevented at all costs. Slaveholders, settlers, and colonial offcials tried
desperately to destroy Afro-aboriginal communities such as the Seminoles of Florida or the Black
Caribs of the Lesser Antilles. According to late-eighteenth-century racist orthodoxy, the child of a
black and an aboriginal American could not produce an aboriginal person.
70
In Caribbean Discourse, Glissant observes, We must return to the point from which we
startednot a return to the longing for origins, to some immutable state of Being, but a return to
the point of entanglement, from which we were forcefully turned away.
71
This complex relation-
ship between modern Caribbean-ness and indigeneity is a point of entanglement, in Glissants
sense. A willingness to dwell with those colonial entanglements might entail the recognition that
68 Aim Csaire, Notebook of a Return to My Native Land / Cahier dun retour au pays natal, ed., Mireille Rosello and Annie
Pritchard (1956; repr., Highgreen, UK: Bloodaxe, 1995), 124.
69 Arguably, such frameworks are problematic even in the North American context. See Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua,
Decolonizing Antiracism, Social Justice 32, no. 4 (2005): 12043; and Nandita Sharma and Cynthia Wright, Decolonizing
Resistance, Challenging Colonial States, Social Justice 35, no. 3 (20089): 12038. For an argument in favor of using the
term settler as a descriptor for diasporic people in the Caribbean, see introduction to Jackson, Creole Indigeneity.
70 In the nineteenth century US Afro-indigenous groups were often recategorized by the government as black. See Fay
Yarborough, Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylva-
nia Press, 2008), 9. See also Jane Landers, Africans and Native Americans on the Spanish Florida Frontier, in Matthew
Restall, ed., Between Black and Red: African-Native Relations in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press, 2005), 5370; and Theda Purdue, Mixed Blood Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South (Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 2005), 45.
71 Glissant, Caribbean Discourse, 25.
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colonialism has left a legacy in which Caribbean people of aboriginal and diasporic origins have
real, and sometimes overlapping and conficting, claims. It forces us to rethink the past in relation
to each other, opens up new terrains of engagement, and, perhaps, lays foundations for a better
collective future.
Acknowledgments
I thank David Austin, Heidi Bohaker, Hazel Carby, Tanya Chung-Tiamfook, Kate Creasey, Judy Deutsch
and Science for Peace, Jens Hanssen, Claire-Hlne Heese-Boutin, Shona Jackson, Chris Johnson,
Malavika Kasturi, Aisha Khan, Tiffany King, Kimberly Palmer, Diana Paton, David Scott, Barbara Todd,
and Alissa Trotz for their input and engagement. I dedicate this article to Jenna Morrison, who died 7
November 2011.