Who Am I Really? Linguistic and Cultural Practices of Trinidadian Douglas

Abstract

The peculiar histories of the colonies in the Caribbean brought together people from Europe, Africa and Asia in a common place where they frequently contested political, social and economic space. The mutual hostilities that developed out of these contests for prominence of one kind or another presented identity and loyalty issues for many persons of mixed heritage who were a natural development in the contexts of such a social structure. In Trinidad, for example, Douglas- the offspring of (East) Indian and African unions- find themselves in situations where the imperatives of social interaction require them to constantly negotiate between their parent communities. This is evidenced by their display of linguistic and cultural practices that either connect them to one or the other of their ancestral groups or alienate them from either one or both groups.
This paper describes and examines some of the linguistic and cultural practices which Trinidadian Douglas use as markers of connectedness or alienation within the public domain as well as their private spaces. It posits that in an attempt to project an identity some Douglas connect themselves to one ancestral group at times subsuming their personal identity within the larger group identity. Some others have been found to alienate themselves from both parental communities opting for a more nationalistic or neutral position as their personal and public identity. Others have chosen to shift between group identities as circumstances warrant and yet others have chosen to incorporate all of the above options - personal and public - as a measure of establishing a new identity that is characterized by being mixed.



Author Information
Ferne Louanne Regis, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2013
Stream: Arts & Humanities

This paper is part of the ACAH2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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