Caribbean Overtures

  • J. Michael Dash


In our survey of Haitian-American relations since the nineteenth century, we have seen the human imagination at its most defensive and at its least generous. Even though all imaginative activity springs from ideological roots, it is also expected to have the capacity to alter and liberate systems of belief and human practice. The imaginative constraints we have examined form an inflexible rhetoric of power or a paralysing self-consciousness that not only distances the Other but sadly, inescapably imprisons the subject as well. Genuine attempts to know objectively or to see clearly become increasingly difficult as textually produced ‘Otherness’ attains an authority and a credibility that permanently obscures the truth. The texts examined do not merely reflect the history of Haitian-American relations. They are a dynamic part of that history — even at times a determining force within it. It is not the ‘timelessness’ of great art that concerns us nor the autonomy of the individual imagination. Instead, our reading tends to concentrate on the ‘timeliness’ of writing that subdues and numbs the imagination by resorting to conventions and stereotypes that are part of a popular discourse. This textual discourse imaginatively fixes geopolitical and historical awareness that becomes the controlling perception in scholarly, historical and anthropological texts. At given periods in Haitian-American relations the particulars might change but the underlying configuration remains unaltered. Individual creativity can ultimately do little against the force of such imaginative constraints.


United States Continental Drift Individual Imagination Haitian Woman Textual Discourse 
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Copyright information

© J. Michael Dash 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Dash
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West IndiesJamaica

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