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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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9. Lyrics to Build a Nation (Gelien Matthews)

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9. Lyrics to Build a Nation

Gelien Matthews

The primary subject of investigation of this paper is the inaugural Independence Calypso Competition staged on August 15, 1962 as one of the premier cultural celebrations marking the birth of Trinidad and Tobago as a new nation. The central claim of the paper is that the agency of the calypsonian in articulating Trinidad and Tobago’s history, identity and destiny, the essence of cultural nationalism, came to the fore in this competition. The paper first provides an overview of publications on cultural nationalism and then proceeds to examine the extent to which the premier Independence Calypso Competition reflected the characteristics of what we understand today as cultural nationalism.

It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that publications on cultural nationalism grew steadily. Yet, the writer who is recognized as the pioneer in the field, Johann Gottfried von Herder, was a German philosopher of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In 1801 Herder first coined the term Volksgeist which literally means spirit of the people or national character.1 Later writers such as Eric Taylor Woods says of cultural nationalism that it seeks to convey a vision of the nation to the wider community.2 Woods is persuaded that cultural nationalism is particularly crucial in the history of nation building and that its key agents are usually intellectuals and artists. F. M. Barnard supports Herder’s Volksgeist theory by explaining that cultural nationalism searches for the true...

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