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CLACS Caribbean Studies Seminar Series actively promote intellectual engagement and knowledge exchange by providing scholars - including postgraduate students and early career researchers - with the opportunity to present their interdisciplinary, comparative and integrated research on the Caribbean.

Politics, Primitivism and Pandering in recent Trinidadian/Caribbean fiction 

Speaker: Raymond Ramcharitar (historian, novelist, poet and cultural critic)

This talk will examine the role of recent Trinidadian novels in creating and maintaining certain unwholesome perceptions of Caribbean-ness locally and in the metropole. It proposes that recent (Caribbean/Trinidadian) fiction has intensified a tradition of using fiction, and in particular the novel, for pandering to the unhealthy fantasies of metropolitan consumers, confirming stereotypes, and creating new ones. The old and new stereotypes include the perception of the Caribbean (and Trinidad) as a primitive, violent, hyper-sexualised space, available for exploitation and rich in opportunities for "saviour" or "civilising" crusades.

The analysis begins with Amanda Smyth's recent novel, Fortune, which describes historical events in Trinidad in the 1920s. A unique  opportunity to examine the novel as a vehicle or medium for historical and social realities, and critique, arises here since another Trinidadian writer, Yseult Bridges (under the pseudonym Tristam Hill) published a similar book, about the same events, in 1936. A comparison and contrast of the two works to examine how politics, racial and social constellations are embedded, examined and interpreted, and the politics of representation -- who defines/presents, who interprets and who consumes Caribbean narratives and why.

Having compared the novels, and determining how Smyth's novel illustrates the contemporary politics of representation, other recent books by Trinidadian writers will be examined -- Monique Roffey's Mermaid of Black Conch, Celeste Mohammed's Pleasantview; and Claire Adam's The Golden Child, all of which have been critically successful in the US and UK.

Raymond Ramcharitar is a historian, novelist, poet and cultural critic from Trinidad. He has most recently published 'A History of Creole Trinidad' (Palgrave, 2021) and has published multiple essays on history, literature, and society in Trinidad in journals and edited collections. He has also published three collections of poetry and one of fiction which (The Island Quintet, 2009) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in 2010 for Canada and the Caribbean.

Seminar Programme

Autumn term
4 October 
1 Nov  
6 Dec            
Winter term
10 Jan           
14 Feb          
14 March     

Organisers: Eve Hayes de Kalaf (IHR) and Jack Webb (Manchester)

The Caribbean Studies Seminar Series is organised by the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) in collaboration with Race, Roots and Resistance (University of Manchester)

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 16:00 GMT. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.

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