Conclusion
Iour
beganthisstudywithaquestion—‘‘whydowestudytextsthatdegrade
humanity?’’—and it is to this question that I return. Phrased in
another way, why remember the terror of the past, every miserable act of
human indecency, will to domination, and ideological myth on which
French Caribbean societies were forged? Why recall slavery, a social and
cultural system that in our contemporary moment has been relegated to
history, thankfully abandoned, one hopes, in favor of a less terror-ridden
model of pluralism and diversity? Why so relentlesslyengage, analyze, and
critique the logic of gendered violence, rape, and exploitation that for two
centuries or more shaped the cultures of the Caribbean and much of the
Americas?Thesequestionsbecomemorerhetoricalwitheachiteration,for
what is striking is less the advantage of forgetting than the need to inves-
tigate more fully the first two centuries of Caribbean literary and cultural
history.Yetitisimpossibletoignorethepoliticalimplicationsandintellec-
tualburdenofstudyingtheculturesabjectedfromWesternmemory.What
the postcolonial studies movement has shown is that there is a space for
memory in the West; yet in taking up the invitation to remember schol-
ars are placed in the uncomfortable position of retelling the abject in ways
that reaffirm the former structures of colonial power and recall the abase-
mentofmostlynon-Europeansubalterns.Themoredifficultquestionsthus
remain. For whom do we remember, and whose memory do we claim to
represent?
Half a century ago, Frantz Fanon adamantly refused to be constrained
by history or to ground his human vocation on his ancestral past, however
brutalorglorious.ReactingagainstwhatheconsideredtobetheNégritude
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