The Caribbean: Identities and Conflicts – Who are we?
CIC (“The Caribbean: Conflicts and Identities”) is an interdisciplinary and interfaculty research group, which focuses on multicultural and multiethnic aspects of the Spanish, English, French and Creole-speaking countries of the Caribbean. Our research centers on the formation of the Caribbean identities which, due to a recent increase in migration, not only extend beyond this geographically limited area but also challenge traditional forms of nation building.
The Caribbean has been labeled “the first globalized region in the world” because of its history of colonization and migration. Radically different cultures and languages – from Asia, Europe, Africa and the pre-Columbian territories, which were later to be known as the Caribbean – have brought to light new and hybrid constellations through encounters. Members of CIC explore these constellations from historical, political, linguistic, and cultural perspectives, and by examining literature and film from the region. Antonio Benítez Rojos’s definition of the Caribbean as a performative cultural space highlights the role of “transculturación” (Fernando Ortiz) and “créolisation” (Édouard Glissant) as important analytical concepts. A central issue is the area’s concurrent movements towards firm borders and the continuation of cultural/ethnic hierarchies on the one hand, and the acclamation of creolization as an open and creative process on the other hand. These opposite forces are at work in a number of places in our contemporary globalized reality, and we believe that the unique Caribbean experience, with radical cultural encounters, contributes to a general understanding of central global challenges on the cultural and political level.
We study these parallel movements within a postcolonial context, in an environment where the earlier colonial discourses and values are still, in many respects, dominant; at the same time these discourses and values are inflected and creolized. Moreover, our multilinguistic focus enables us to examine cultural encounters across different linguistic regions in the Caribbean, and the notion of the transnational, which Caribbean migration embodies.
With this in mind, our aim is to further develop a national and international network by way of seminars and publications, which will inspire research interests among potential scholars via interdisciplinary course offerings for master students.