Negritude

Topics: Caribbean, Haiti, Martinique Pages: 2 (460 words) Published: June 2, 2013
1-ORIGINS OF NEGRITUDE

The historical origins of Negritude can be traced to the various forms of cultural expression in the French Caribbean that find their roots in the African continent, practices that were transmogrified by the experience of the Middle Passage and slavery. Like the North American spirituals first championed in The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois, a variety of arts and practices served as refuges for Afro-Caribbean pride and African culture: the dances called calenda, bamboula, and laghia; the drumming and songs of the bel-air, Gwoka, and lewoz; Creole culinary arts; the Kric-Krac folktales; and the multitude of practices arising from Hatian Vodou. Forced underground by the violence and racism of slavery, this proto-Negritude manifested itself less as overt, self-proclaimed affirmation than through the concrete, positive production of cultural, religious, and aesthetic practices. In addition, black slaves at times responded to the threat of annihilation with self-affirmation in the form of overt resistance: feigned laziness, ignorance or incompetence, theft, poisoning of animals and burning of buildings, escape into maroon communities, and organized revolts (Slave Rebellions in Latin America and the Caribbean).

The social dynamics of a Caribbean society created through the institution of slavery and its vehicle, the plantation (in its French variant, l'habitation), resulted in a powerful ideological valorization of and identification with a highly centralized metropolitan French culture. For commentators such as Edouard Glissant, this identification explains the success and longevity of a French colonial project that, in his estimation, continues to this day in the very Martinique that Aime Cesaire helped to integrate juridically in 1945. This overwhelming cultural identification points to the radicality of Cesaire's revalorization of African, rather than French, culture. The Franco-centric cultural reference also explains why...
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