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Regional Discourses on Society and History

Shaping the Caribbean

Edited By Jerome Teelucksingh and Shane Pantin

This book thematically analyses and surveys areas of Caribbean history and society. The work is divided into three parts: part one addresses migration and identity; part two explores policy and development; and part three explores music and literature. The volume places a fresh perspective on these topics. The essays depart from the usual broader themes of politics, economics and society and provide a deeper insight into forces that left a decisive legacy on aspects of the Caribbean region. Such contributions come at a time when some of the Caribbean territories are marking over 50 years as independent nation states and attempting to create, understand and forge ways of dealing with critical national and regional issues. The volume brings together a broad group of scholars writing on Caribbean issues including postgraduate students, lecturers, and researchers. Each chapter is thematically divided into the aforementioned areas. This book addresses areas much deeper than the linear historical and social science models, and it offers Caribbean academics and researchers a foundation for further research.

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5. The Contribution of Calypso in Transforming Race Relations in Trinidad and the Wider Caribbean Through the Subject of Cricket (Claudius Fergus)

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5. The Contribution of Calypso in Transforming Race Relations in Trinidad and the Wider Caribbean Through the Subject of Cricket1

Claudius Fergus

By the beginning of the World War II, the calypso had already emerged as one of the dominant expressions of cultural nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago.2 In this regard, the 1930s was seminal. With remarkable insightfulness, the calypsonian assimilated his culture-agenda to the political struggle for constitutional and legal reform for which the 1930s was also a critical landmark.3 Interestingly, a calypsonian of that era coined the term “Trinidad, land of Calypso.”4 Later, American soldiers stationed in Trinidad came to terms with the island’s proverbial irreverence for punctuality by describing the practice as “calypso time”; not to be outdone, an English writer reacted to the calypso-hubris unleashed by the first West Indian victory at Lords in 1950 by branding the unique style of West Indies cricket as “calypso cricket.”5 Still, the capital ontological statement on calypso is that of novelist, V. S. Naipaul: “It is only in the calypso that the Trinidadian touches reality.”6 However, up to the present day, public reaction to this art form is deeply influenced by race, class and gender considerations. To its detractors, calypso is a vehicle for legitimising smut, ethnic bashing and machismo.7 To its devotees, however, calypso is the principal canon of the historically marginalized and voiceless Afro-Trinidadian, and the disenfranchised in general: a cherished legacy of their historic struggle for freedom, not the...

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