Introduction
Creolization in the Old egime
This
is a study of published narrative sources from the French Carib-
bean from the inception of colonization in the 1640s until the onset
oftheHaitianRevolutioninthe1790s.Mygoalinreadingthesesourcesis
to contribute to the study of cultural contact, exchange, and social trans-
formation, which resulted in the rise of one of the most profitableyet bru-
tal slave societies in history. I believe that literarycriticism and theoretical
interpretivemethodologiesoffercrucialinsightsintosomeofthemostfas-
cinating yet elusive questions encountered by writers and scholars on the
historical Caribbean. Howare cultural traits and belief systems shared be-
tween individuals and groups in social relations of domination? What are
the relationships between cultural interaction and boundary crossing, on
one hand, and the construction and maintenance of repressive regimes en-
forcedbyexclusionsandviolence,ontheother?Alternatively,atwhatpoint
doexchanges,desires,andintimaciesacrosstheboundaryofpowersubvert
regimesofviolenceandatwhatpointdotheyencourage,reinforce,oreven
produce them? In posing these questions, I focus on a productive paradox
in recent theories of creolization, namely, the notion that a common cul-
ture may be constructed in a social system marked by asymmetrical power
relations and the threat of violence. By attending to the power dynamics
governingthedevelopmentofCreolesocieties,Iexaminethewaysinwhich
socialconflictsinherentinslaveryandaracializedsocialstructureimpacted
processesofculturalsyncretism.Mostimportantly,Icallattentiontowhat
has often been masked or misapprehended in discussions of both creoliza-
tionandcolonialslavery:theroleofdesireandsexualityalongsideviolence
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