'There Once Was an Indian’ Who Imagined Elsewhere and Others

Authored by: Tanya Shields

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


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The quest for freedom and self-determination in the circum-Caribbean is full of heroic and incredible stories. In anglophone Caribbean literature and history, the indigenous presence has been characterized in two critical ways. First, Caribbean natives have been represented as noble and uncorrupted, but extinct forerunners of Caribbean nations; and second, as problematic minorities at the edges of emerging nations. Indigenous people of the Caribbean have been through many incarnations as they and their Caribbean neighbours come to terms with belonging to postcolonial states. While the common belief about the Caribbean’s indigenous population is one of extermination and erasure, Amerindians as a community, along with creative writers and scholars are intervening in this ‘fallacy of extinction’ (Forte 2006: 9–15).

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