Memory-Work, Field-Work

Reading Merle Collins and the Poetics of Place

Authored by: Shalini Puri

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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‘Big Revolution in a Small Country’ was the slogan with which Fidel Castro hailed the Grenada Revolution of 1979–1983. The first socialist revolution in the anglophone Caribbean, it made significant gains in areas such as employment, housing, health and education. Widely popular, although also criticized for the suppression of political dissent, the Revolution ended in October 1983, after a split developed in the leadership of the Party, and Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several of his closest comrades were executed. The United States invaded shortly thereafter. Monumentalized in various billboards during the Revolution, ‘Big Revolution, Small Country’ places the world-historical scale and the ambition of Grenada’s revolutionary project in stark contrast to the modest means and scale of Grenada’s 12 × 21 miles. The slogan points to the ways in which the Grenada Revolution redefined the local, as well as to ongoing contradictions between the revolutionary project and its home terrain: How would human agency and material landscape limit and define each other? How would the language of revolution and the working class inhabit and transform a geography lived in terms of parishes? What translations would be possible between ‘scientific’ Marxist theory and local vernacular experience?

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