El Dorado: The New Quest for Caribbean Unity
Shields, Tanya Liesel
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El Dorado the gilded man or golden city has always signified the deferred and colonial quest for a New World paradise. It has led explorers, conquistadores, and those they enslaved on fabulous journeys of misinterpretation and trickery. Global reconfigurations in politics, culture and economics generated by globalization on the physicial and psychological infrastructures of poor places, has the Caribbean searching for a redefined El Dorado. Through the medium of literature,this new El Dorado has the potential to fulfill the promise of Caribbean unity, inherent inits geography and history, by subsumingnational interests to regional ones. This dissertation fuses the concerns of globalization, postmodernism and citizenship into the Amerindian Postmodern, a term coined by me, and a framing, largely influenced by the philosophical work of Wilson Harris. I argue that using Amerindian postmodernism applied to regional literature, allows a crossing of linguistic, geographic, nationalistic and economic barriers not addressed by political attempts at integration. Art, as a mediator, has the power to shift consciousness and its political power is demonstrated repeatedly in various liberation struggles and by governmental attempts to repress and restrict how art is created and used. Art culls fact from fiction and desire from apathy,whether the authors' are deliberately part of the process or not. The Introduction and Chapter One articulate and illustre Amerindian postmodernism at its most theoretical. These chapters outline the basic tenets ofthis idea to exploring queestions of identity and resource sharing. Chapter Two investigates therole and status of women using a lens, I call the Sycorax Model, which emergees from postcolonial discourse via relationships expressed in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Examining how women use, abuse and tranform their muted and stated powers for the benefits of their communities is imperitive. Chapter Three examines the Haitian Revolution, as represented in various texts, as one moment during which black people asserted their humanity and the contradictions such a claim engendered. Chapter Four explores how various theatrical forms and festivals concretize the positive ideas of regional nation building and Amerindian postmodernism. In effect, this project aruges that a regional Caribbean nation is a good and necessary thing for Caribbean survival and a process through which the cultural arts will help us navigate. It is the region's new quest for paradise, with the understanding that paradise is a process rather than a final destination.