Créolité

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Créolité is a literary movement first developed in the 1980s by the Martinican writers Patrick Chamoiseau, Jean Bernabé and Raphaël Confiant. They published Eloge de la créolité (In Praise of Creoleness) in 1989 as a response to the perceived inadequacies of the négritude movement. Créolité, or "creoleness", is a neologism which attempts to describe the cultural and linguistic heterogeneity of the Antilles and, more specifically, of the French Caribbean.

"Creoleness" may also refer to the scientifically meaningful characteristics of Creole languages, the subject of study in creolistics.

History[edit]

Créolité can perhaps best be described in contrast with the movement that preceded it, la négritude, a literary movement spearheaded by Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas in the 1930s. Négritude writers sought to define themselves in terms of their cultural, racial and historical ties to the African continent as a rejection of French colonial political hegemony and of French cultural, intellectual, racial and moral domination. Césaire and his contemporaries considered the shared black heritage of members of the African diaspora as a source of power and self-worth for those oppressed by physical and psychological violence of the colonial project.

Later writers such as the Martinican Edouard Glissant came to reject the monolithic view of "blackness" portrayed in the négritude movement. In the early 1980s, Glissant advanced the concept of Antillanité ("Caribbeanness") which claimed that Caribbean identity could not be described solely in terms of African descent. Caribbean identity came not only from the heritage of ex-slaves, but was equally influenced by indigenous Caribbeans, European colonialists, East Indian and Chinese coolies (indentured servants). Glissant and adherents to the subsequent créolité movement (called créolistes) stress the unique historical and cultural roots of the Caribbean region while still rejecting French dominance in the French Caribbean.

The authors of Eloge de la créolité describe créolité as "an annihilation of false universality, of monolinguism, and of purity." (La créolité est une annihilation de la fausse universalité, du monolinguisme et de la pureté). In particular, the créolité movement seeks to reverse the dominance of French as the language of culture and literature in the French Caribbean. Instead it valorizes the use of Antillean Creole in literary, cultural and academic contexts. Indeed, many of the créolistes publish their novels in both Creole and French.

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