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'Aruba Has a Black Past Too'

By E.A.P.B. van Erven


Intercultural research is first and foremost a personal thing. It should, I think, not be limited at the outset by all kinds of sophisticated universal theories of which, nowadays, there are so many that it has become impossible to tell the forest for the trees. Here in Aruba, I’d say, start with the streets and the cunucu: document the stories and cultural practices of regular folks in all their cultural diversity - and that in itself will be a job and a half. Then trace their roots and study the histories and contemporary complexities in their homelands, which, by the latest count in Aruba already exceeds 70 nations. Don’t forget the many nations multicultural Arubans have migrated to either, or their children. Remember that the diaspora doesn’t stop here, but continues to move on, relentlessly, into the most surprising directions and territories, which themselves continue to change. Only then, when sufficient data have been gathered, may it be time to theorize and then always with the understanding that - particularly with a slippery subject such as culture - theories are at best only abstract models and formulas of an infinitely complex reality that it can never fully hope to cover, let alone predict. My point is that way too many colors are missing from the official Aruban picture, the most conspicuous being the Caribbean, which is only – and then very temporarily – acknowledged during carnival time. Why? Well, because it’s lucrative. But for the rest of the year, Aruba tends to deny its Anglophone Afro-Caribbean identity. So who are some of these Caribbean figures that even the best-educated Arubans have never heard of, let alone studied? I will not deal here with the mighty ones, the Nobel prize laureates such as Walcott and Naipaul, or Prime Ministers such as Michael Manley and Maurice Bishop, who once made world headlines in the eighties. The time restraints for this presentation and my own intellectual limitations permit only a small capricious excursion

Topics: Letteren, Culturele activiteiten, Literary theory, analysis and criticism, Overig maatschappelijk onderzoek, Specialized histories (international relations, law)
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/11492
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