African Keyword

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African as a keyword

Not Edward Said

The Keyword African has established different meanings in different societies, and can change through interpretation depending on the situation. African is an ideal keyword because of the endless possible interpretations of the meaning and significance of the term, and its' openness to change based on context. Looking at keywords like these provides insight into a society's ideals, and helps mark how history has changed the meaning of the word based on social influence and cultural practices. Marking how the definition changes through time, or from one culture to another helps show the progression and difference in ideas. THE FIRST SENTENCE OF A 21ST CENTURY STYLE-WIKI-KEYWORD-AFRICA-COLLABORATIVE EFFORT.... Why are "things" the way they are? and how did they get to be that way? these are the questions of the English 111 E class, spring quarter 2010, at the University of Washington.. da da duuhhh

Analyzing Brown's Keyword essay

Identity and Relation to Home

In "No Telephone to Heaven" the heroine, Claire Savage, feels alone in the world and searches for purpose. Claire can not seem to fit in in the United States because of her multiracial heritage so she travels to England, the motherland of her people. Once there, she enrolls in a university and dedicates herself to studying, however something is still missing. When Claire vacations in Jamaica she connects with Harry/Harriet but feels out of place in the developing country. Claire's inability to find a comfortable community inhibits her sense of her own identity. "African" highlights the complication that many African American's in modern day America. The complicated past of African American's has lead to confusion in the present regarding bonds to homeland and personal identity.

Relationship to other Keywords

The main focus of our class this quarter has been related to novels and essays on the Caribbean, especially the countries of Haiti and Jamaica. The citizens of the Caribbean have the cultural identity associated with African heritage, but find themselves in the Americas, having to find an identity of their own. They are a product of Diaspora during the triangle slave trade, and they have come to have an ethnicity of their own based on both African, and European ancestry. In the essay "Cultural Identity and Diaspora" Stuart Hill analyzes the influences of three major presences in the Caribbean, including presence African, and the presence of America. The African presence in the Caribbean is reflecting the heritage of the slaves that worked on the sugar plantations, and the culture that they came from. It is also about how the Caribbean changed the sense of the African identity, and what it has come to mean today. The American presence is seen as the "blending" and mixing of cultures that is seen throughout the Caribbean. Then New World offers a stage for different cultures to meet and interact, forming a unique identity based on different heritages and ancestry.

Depiction of African in Modern Literature

Krik? Krak!

Caroline's Wedding

The Black Jacobins

The Black Jacobins, Haiti, and African as a Keyword

The Black Jacobins is a play by C.L.R. James about the Hatian revolution. It follows Toussaint L'Ouverture in his 'quest(change word)' to free the slaves and slowly gain their own identity. After the slaves are freed, they choose Toussaint as their leader. Toussaint desperately tries to preserve their freedom while trying to find peace between themselves and rest of the world.

Identity; Nationalism and Exile

In the play, Toussaint knows that once they are freed from being slaves they have lost any identity they once had. They were once African but they were taken to become slaves. They were once slaves but now they are free men. Toussaint knows that now that they are free they must claim their own identity, yet they are not ready to become truly independent. What they seek is they're own nationlism. (Definition of nationalism using Said).

Stuart Hall; looking behind, beneath, and inside of identity in the Caribbean

"Theorizing Diaspora" Edited by Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur

In “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”, Stuart Hall breaks down the understanding of identity into different aspects. He begins his essay with the two types of cultural identities. First, identity is secure and defined by those who share a common history. Second, identity is always changing and determined by the similarities and differences. By going in depth with these two different identities, Hall believes “we should think, instead, of identity as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation” (234). For the rest of his essay, Hall interprets the three dominant presences in Caribbean cultural identity. The first presence, Presence Africaine, is “the site of the repressed” (240). This presence is not superficially represented, but remains as “unspeakable.” The second is the Presence Europeenne. This presence is the visual representation of identity and “plays” a dominant role in Caribbean culture. Lastly, Presence Americaine is the third presence. This aspect of identity is where many cultures collide. This presence is also known as “the ‘empty’ land” (243).

See more: Cultural Identity and Diaspora

Reflection on Exile

In "Reflections on Exile," Edward Said tries to apply the notation of exile to relatable terms, and show how it has changed through the course of history. He states that there is a huge difference between notations of exile that are seen in literature, and the experiences of modern, real-life exiles that exist in today's world. Exiles have a loss of association with their homeland, and their sense of loneliness causes them to interact with cultures in a unique way as they attempt to form a new sense of identity and belonging. The African keyword can be seen in Said's writing through the African diaspora to the Caribbean, and the struggle for a formation of identity that results. Said concludes by showing how the two definitions can interact to provide a sense of "the entire world as a foreign land" (186) to overcome the emotional consequences of exile.

"Exiles feel, therefore, an urgent need to reconstitute their broken lives, usually by choosing to see themselves as part of a triumphant ideology or a restored people" (177).

See more: Reflections on Exile

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