Quebec Studies

Comparative Creoles: Race, Identity, and Difference Between Louisiana and its Caribbean Counterparts

Quebec Studies (2021), 71, (1), 61–82.

Abstract

This essay places Louisiana Creole culture and identity into comparative perspective with the evolution of Creole identity and créolité in Haiti and the French Antilles. While Haitian and Antillean intellectuals wrestled at the crossroads of French and African culture over the course of the twentieth century, the leading intellectuals of Louisiana’s Creole society were more likely to embrace French language and culture than to work self-consciously to integrate African influences into their understanding of themselves. A similar kind of cultural reckoning did not occur among Louisiana Creole writers and intellectuals until late in the twentieth century. The essay uses a comparative approach to examine the factors that have led to Louisiana taking such a different approach to Creole identity and cultural expression and considers how the community may evolve in the years to come.

Cet essai situe la culture et l’identité créoles louisianaises dans une perspective comparée avec l’évolution de l’identité créole et de la créolité en Haïti et aux Antilles françaises. Lorsque des intellectuels haïtiens et antillais travaillaient au carrefour des cultures française et africaine au parcours du vingtième siècle, les intellectuels du chef de file de la société créole de la Louisiane tendaient plus à engager la langue et la culture françaises que de chercher à intégrer consciemment les influences africaines dans leur conception identitaire. Ce n’est que plus tard dans le vingtième siècle que nous témoignons d’une reconnaissance culturelle similaire chez les écrivains et les intellectuels de la Louisiane créole. Cet essai aborde de manière comparée les éléments qui contribuaient à une approche si différente à l’identité et l’expression culturelle créoles en Louisiane et considère comment la communauté pourraient évoluer à l’avenir.

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Parham, Angel Adams