Publication Date

2009-12-21

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2009-10-09

First Committee Member

Patricia Saunders - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Sandra Pouchet Paquet - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Tim Watson - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Natasha Barnes - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

This study examines Anglophone Caribbean national identities to interrogate multiple and varied economies that manage citizens in the interest of economic and social production and/or the policing of national identities. It is particularly concerned with the gendered character of these economies. The formation and preservation of these national identities rely heavily on gender and sexual difference as Anglophone Caribbean national identities are inextricably linked to expressions of Afro-Caribbean masculinity. Thus I analyze novels and cultural representations of Afro-Caribbean masculinity in cricket, calypso and chutney-soca music in Trinidad's carnival. I also examine Afro-Caribbean religions, Revivalism and Rastafarianism, as well as Afro-Caribbean practices of masking. I examine these practices in order to interrogate the reproduction of colonial practices of marginalization and exclusion. These colonial practices, I argue, are inherent in the cultural politics that inform these cultural performances while denying modes of national belonging that refuse dictated performances of national identities. The literary and cultural performances in this project span three epochs in Caribbean history: post emancipation, independence, and post independence to assess the shifting cultural landscapes that shape postcolonial subjectivities. In Sylvia Wynter's The Hills of Hebron and Orlando Patterson's The Children of Sisyphus, I examine sexual economies in which power is negotiated and contested in a struggle to chart the gendered borders of citizenship and production. I then turn to Lakshmi Persaud's For the Love of My Name to analyze violence exacted against ethnically marked national collectives as an instrument of political and economic aggression that disproportionately affects women. My critique of Earl Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance and contemporary performances in calypso and chutney-soca carnival competitions, considers how operative traditions seek to govern post-independent cultural politics. By drawing parallels between the formation of Afro and Indo-Trinidadian nationalisms, I argue that these identity formations establish cultural difference while also dictating cultural performances to advance and police national identities. Lastly, I engage Lovelace's Salt, Garfield Ellis' Such as I Have and contemporary discourses concerning cricket performance, remuneration, and women's limited access to cricket. I argue that cricket becomes a cultural commodity in the perpetuation of a regional national identity that is dependent on gender constructs. Thus this study demonstrates how representations of culture can be mobilized to challenge ideologies and political practices of exclusion, marginalize women in the formation and performance of national identities and govern cultural politics.

Keywords

Masculinity; National Identity; Gender Performance; Anglophone Caribbean

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