Sé tan nou é pa ta yo: politics of Antillian identity formation
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My report will use the 2009 Guadeloupean strikes as an ethnographic moment that reveals the complex intersection of race, culture, and nationality in the construction of Guadeloupean identity. The strikes created an environment that made even more visible the strategic negotiations of identity that are important to understanding postcolonial relationships between intimately tied nations such as Guadeloupe, Haiti, and France. I argue that Antillean identity is constructed along a racial continuum as represented by the racio-cultural extremes of Haiti and metropolitan France. Depending on the agenda—whether socio-cultural, economic, political, or any combination of the three—in politicized situations, Antilleans will highlight categories that allow for them to maximize their various, fluid positions as non-sovereign Caribbeans, as second-class French citizens, and as members of the Black diaspora with racial politics that have a complicated relationship to Blackness. By looking at how certain categories are manipulated, we can also develop a better understanding of—and even strategies for—relieving the tensions that, I believe, undermine racial and cultural cooperation for these under-researched communities in France and its territories.