Taken together, C. L. R. James’s 1933 political pamphlet The Case for West-Indian Self Government and 1936 novel Minty Alley reveal the author’s competing visions of relations between Africans and Indians in the British West Indies. In The Case for West-Indian Self Government, James proclaims that West Indian societies are fit to govern their own affairs because they are modern and harmonious. However, James’s argument contradicts his literary sketches of the barrack yard in Minty Alley. The novel features a fractious relationship between Benoit and Mrs. Rouse, the owners of the yard. Mrs. Rouse responds to Benoit’s infidelity by remarking, “My blood and coolie blood don’t take.” They fight over ownership of No. 2 Minty Alley, but when Benoit dies, Mrs. Rouse buries him at the yard. Minty Alley portrays a barrack yard politics made through the combined—if tense—efforts of African and Indian descendants.
Barrack Yard Politics: From C. L. R. James’s The Case for West-Indian Self Government to Minty Alley
Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research examines the aftermath of slavery and Indian indentureship in the literature and visual arts of the English-speaking Caribbean. Her scholarship has been published in sx salon, American Quarterly, and Indo-Caribbean Feminist Thought, edited by Gabrielle Jamela Hosein and Lisa Outar.