1 ‘‘This Rainbow Has Teeth’’
1 The term creole has many meanings and uses, and extensive discussion in the literature.
See, for example, the special issues of Caribbean Quarterly (1998) and Plantation Society
in the Americas (1998).
2 In his recent interview with David Gonzalez, a New York Times reporter, on 9 January
2002, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, made it a point to declare
about his four wives that he has ‘‘one wife who is mixed, an African [Afro-Trinidadian]
wife, an Indian [Indo-Trinidadian] wife and one who is another mixture of Chinese and
Indian . . . I now have the whole United Nations in my family.’’ (‘‘Failed Rebel’s Boast: At
Least He Rules the Street.’’) The image of the UN that Bakr employs is meant to represent
ecumenism and harmony, although conveyed with something of a wink. Academic ab-
stractions, on the other hand, currently tend to characterize the Caribbean and Trinidad as
beyond global political requirements for nations to be ‘‘modern’’ in terms of a UN–like
realpolitik, instead emphasizing their symbolizing new directions in theory-building.
Mary C. Waters, for example, suggests that ‘‘West Indians are perhaps the quintessential
postmodern peoples’’ due to their engagement with capitalism, the preponderance of cul-
tural mixing in the region’s ‘‘created societies,’’ and the importance of migration in their
lives (2001:202). Waters’s study focuses on Afro-Caribbeans, who are generally character-
ized as engaged with modernity on a global scale; Indo-Caribbeans—with their allegedly
intact traditions—have more recently begun to be portrayed in this way.
3 The term dougla is derived from Hindi, and refers to a person with one Afro-Trinidadian
parent and one Indo-Trinidadian parent. ‘‘Long time’’ (until about the mid-twentieth cen-
tury), however, it was used by Indo-Caribbeans to identify a person of mixed Indian and
any non-Indian parentage. With current interest in aesthetic forms of ‘‘cut-and-mix’’ hy-
brids in popular culture, along with North America’s new attention to ‘‘multicultural-
ism,’’ dougla seems to be losing a good deal of its stigma.
4 Contrasting with internal perspectives are the external ones of scholarly observation. As
Michael Taussig recognizes, syncretism, as it has been traditionally employed, often lacks
specific reference to power relations; he calls for thinking in terms of a ‘‘folding into’’ each
other of colonizer and colonized, ‘‘a chamber of mirrors—reflecting each stream’s percep-
tion of the other’’ rather than an ‘‘organic synthesis’’ (1987:218).
Previous Page Next Page