Representing Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Anglo-American world
Mia L. Bagneris
Merry and contented slaves and
other islandmyths: representing
Africans and Afro-Creoles in the
Young’s Account of the Black Charaibs mobilised subtle and not-so-subtle
allusions to the rebellion in Haiti to construct a narrative of the Carib Wars
that demonised the Black Caribs and portrayed them as rebels themselves
– Africans destined for slavery who refused to submit to the yoke of British
authority. Ironically, Agostino Brunias, the artist who painted the black
Indians for Young and who came to be known as the plantocracy’s painter
This timely collection explores British attitudes to continental Europe that explain the Brexit decision. Analysing British discourses of Europe and the impact of British Euroscepticism, the book argues that Britain’s exit from the European Union reflects a more general cultural rejection of continental Europe: Britain is in denial about the strength of its ties to Europe and needs to face Europe if it is to face the future. The volume brings together literary and cultural studies, history, and political science in an integrated analysis of views and practices that shape cultural memory and the cultural imaginary. Part I, ‘Britain and Europe: political entanglements’, traces the historical and political relationship between Britain and Europe and the place of Europe in recent British political debates while Part II, ‘British discourses of Europe in literature and film’, is devoted to representative case studies of films as well as popular Eurosceptic and historical fiction. Part III, ‘Negotiating borders in British travel writing and memoir’, engages with border mindedness and the English Channel as a contact zone, also including a Gibraltarian point of view. Given the crucial importance of literature in British discourses of national identity, the book calls for, and embarks on, a Euro-British literary studies that highlights the nature and depth of the British-European entanglement.
Agostino Brunias's paintings have often been understood as straightforward documents of visual ethnography that functioned as field guides for reading race. This book offers the first comprehensive study of Agostino Brunias's intriguing pictures of colonial West Indians of colour made for colonial officials and plantocratic elites during the late-eighteenth century. It talks about the so called 'Red' and 'Black' Caribs, dark-skinned Africans and Afro-Creoles, and mixed-race women and men. The book explores the role of the artist's paintings in reifying notions of race in the British colonial Caribbean and considers how the images both reflected and refracted common ideas about race. Although some historians argue that the conclusion of the First Carib War actually amounted to a stalemate, Brunias clearly documents it as a moment of surrender, with Joseph Chatoyer considering the terms of his people's submission. Young's Account of the Black Charaibs mobilised subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to the rebellion in Haiti to construct a narrative of the Carib Wars. The book analyses the imaging of Africans and Afro-Creoles in British colonial art. The painting named Mulatresses and Negro Woman Bathing, Brunias replaces his more quotidian trade scenes and negro dancing frolics with a bathing tableau set against a sylvan Eden. In Linen Market, Dominica, one arresting figure captivates the viewer more than any other. Brunias may have painted for the plantocractic class, constructing pretty pictures of Caribbean life that reflected the vision of the islands upon which white, colonialist identities depended.
’ (Eaglestone, 2018 : 1). Looking at the build-up to the referendum, it is striking that Leave campaigners were very good at exploiting myths and stereotypes for their own ends, tapping into the reservoirs of cultural memory in search of narratives and images that would have an impact, while Remainers did not manage, or did not care, to offer powerful narratives in favour of European integration. For example, the UKIP poster that shows three huge escalators cutting into the white cliffs of Dover, prime symbol of British Exceptionalism and the ‘islandmyth’ (see chapter 10
British and supported their perceptions of Black Caribs as a problematic entity
in the British colonial world. However, careful analysis also reveals the extent
to which these works simultaneously underscore the problematic nature of
the racial and cultural distinctions they aim to reify and point to deeply felt
cultural anxieties about the inevitably hybrid character of colonial life and the
difficulty of assigning and recognising race and place in colonial island society.
The next chapter, ‘Merry and contented slaves and other islandmyths: