This essay reads Kamau Brathwaite’s seminal 1975 essay “Caribbean Man in Space and Time” in terms of its rhetorical politics. Conceptually, the essay’s hybrid and heterogeneous discourses and registers are theorized in terms drawn from Clifford Geertz, Leah Rosenberg, and Mandy Bloomfield. Brathwaite’s style effectively instantiates “Caribbean Man” as an exemplary model of the practice of Caribbean studies. The essay is posited as a palimpsestic text, haunted by Brathwaite’s prior creative and critical texts as well as the work of other Caribbean writers and intellectuals and animated by metaphors of creolization that derive from the archipelago’s geology, geography, and history. Ultimately, “Caribbean Man,” while immured in the nationalist sensibility of the 1970s, eschews a reductive nationalist politics for a more expansive notion of nation and community akin to Wilson Harris’s shamanic espousal of Indigenous and ancestral presences in the Caribbean imaginary.
The Politics of Style in “Caribbean Man in Space and Time”
Nadi Edwards teaches in the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona. He has published articles on Caribbean literature and criticism, travel writing, and popular culture. His research interests include Caribbean literary and cultural studies, and postcolonial literatures and theories.
Nadi Edwards; The Politics of Style in “Caribbean Man in Space and Time”. Small Axe 1 November 2021; 25 (3 (66)): 127–133. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-9583474
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