The Dundus and the Nation

Essay Excerpt

This essay seeks to explore, then, the significance of the dundus (and of al- binism more broadly) as a symbolic form embedded in a wider social discourse, the geographical and temporal boundaries of which shift as the narrative scrolls between Jamaica, a wider Caribbean, and the United States, as well as between the late 18th century and the present. This essay seeks to read the collective identities of "race" and "nation" through the dundus's elision and banishment- through the aura of taboo that surrounds him or her. These identities have become a ubiquitous force in postcolonial social formations, just as they previously had in the "older states."

In this essay, I first use the marginalized positioning of the dundus as a site from which to question the claims to inclusiveness that these collectivities of race and nation make for themselves. I go on to draw out connections between the displacement so strikingly evident in this case and the displacement of others who, in the homogenizing project of the nation, are marginalized, whether on the basis of ethnicity, class, gender, or sexuality. In the process, theroles (as currently practiced) of social science and history in service of the social and political "center" also come under scrutiny. (Carnegie, 472-473) 

About the Author

Charles V. Carnegie is a Professor at Bates College. His recent work focuses on identity categories and on issues of nationalism and transnationalism. He is the author of Postnationalism Prefigured: Caribbean Borderlands (Rutgers University Press2002), co-editor with Samuel Martinez of “Crossing Borders of Language and Culture,” a theme issue of Small Axe (No. 19, 2006), and editor of Afro-Caribbean Villages in Historical Perspective (African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, 1987). His essays and reviews have appeared in various edited collections and scholarly journals. Professor Carnegie served as director of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica from 1987 – 1991and since coming to Bates has led several study abroad programs in Jamaica. He serves on the editorial board of Transforming Anthropology, as a member of the editorial collective of the Caribbean journal of criticism, Small Axe(Duke University Press). He is currently Chair of the Program in African American Studies at Bates

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