This essay explores the narrative of “aboriginal absence,” arguably the foundational colonial myth of Caribbean history. Since the early colonial period, the space of the “native” in the Caribbean context has been treated as a space left vacant for others to fill. Beginning in the 1960s, this narrative of aboriginal absence was widely incorporated across a range of genres into texts that constitute the anglophone Caribbean's decolonizing intellectual tradition. The essay critically engages with the claim—made most poignantly by Sylvia Wynter and Kamau Brathwaite—that diasporic peoples have indigenized in the Caribbean and replaced the region's first aboriginal peoples. In particular, Guyana's debates over the Amerindian Act illustrate the profoundly colonial implications of adopting “indigenization” as actual state practice.

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