‘Folking up the Criticism’

The Politics of ‘the Folk’ in Caribbean Discourse

Authored by: Christian Campbell

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745

10.4324/9780203830352.ch41_a

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Abstract

The work of troubling the idea of the nation in the Caribbean in this more contradictory moment requires us to call its meta-narrative, ‘the folk’, into question. My task here is to begin to deconstruct some of the assumptions about the over-determined yet under-theorized concept of ‘the folk’ and to excavate some of its significant ideological positions in Caribbean discourse. I hope to illustrate why the re-routing of the explicit debates about ‘the folk’ after the 1970s was premature. Indeed, Caribbean writers and critics continue to deploy certain constructions of the folk in the service of cultural nationalism, anti-colonialism, creolization and ‘authentic’ Caribbean aesthetics. This genealogy of the folk in Caribbean discourse serves as analytical context for examining the contestations over the meanings of the folk and the varied political investments in the folk throughout Caribbean literary history.

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