Identity/Identity Formation

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How do I explain how Caribbean culture is used in the articulation and performance of Caribbean identity?

Explaining how Caribbean culture is used in the articulation and performance of Caribbean culture requires defining culture. Then, the variety of diversity of Caribbean culture needs to be delineated. One way to approach this to look at the many ethnic, racial, and religious groups that make up the region. Finally, examples should be given of how culture is expressed through literature, food, film, clothing, art, and music.

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This is a complex question, which cannot be easily answered in a short manner. I would encourage you to look at the below articles for a starting point. Culture is, of course, an enormously rich and nuanced concept. What is striking about the Caribbean region is how many different influences...

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This is a complex question, which cannot be easily answered in a short manner. I would encourage you to look at the below articles for a starting point. Culture is, of course, an enormously rich and nuanced concept. What is striking about the Caribbean region is how many different influences it incorporates. Aside from the influence of each individual island, the region was settled/conquered by Europeans, which brought in another a culture, a culture that was often at odds with the native culture. A fruitful way to approach this question would be to look at in a Hegelian manner; that is, to consider the native culture as thesis, the European culture as antithesis, and the resulting culture as synthesis.

The way the culture is performed and articulated is manifold. Aside from looking at the way that European and Caribbean culture interacted, there is the way the islands interact with each other and how food, music, religion, and dress, for example, may migrate from island to island. One avenue to explore in the articulating of this culture is the music of the region. A particularly useful example is Jamaica, which has produced ska, rock steady, dub and reggae, all of which have found a wide audience. The music can be seen both as an expression of the culture and as a means of commerce with the European/American world.

A final aspect to look at in terms of culture is that of language. Many of the ethnic groups of the islands had their own language, but the region was settled by Europeans who brought their own languages. As a result, there is a wide mix of languages spoken in the Caribbean, as well as unique examples of hybrid languages, such as Creole. An issue that comes up for the Caribbean writer is whether to use their native language or to use English to connect with a potentially larger audience.

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