Creole IndigeneityBetween Myth and Nation in the Caribbean

Creole IndigeneityBetween Myth and Nation in the Caribbean

Shona N. Jackson

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816677757

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. This book investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies. Looking particularly at the nation’s politically fraught decades from the 1950s to the present, the book explores aboriginal and Creole identities in Guyanese society. Through government documents, interviews, and political speeches, it reveals how Creoles, though unable to usurp the place of aboriginals as First Peoples in the New World, nonetheless managed to introduce a new, more socially viable definition of belonging, through labor. The very reason for bringing enslaved and indentured workers into Caribbean labor became the organizing principle for Creoles’ new identities. Creoles linked true belonging, and so political and material right, to having performed modern labor on the land; labor thus became the basis for their subaltern, settler modes of indigeneity—a contradiction for belonging under postcoloniality that this book terms “Creole indigeneity.”