Music and the Post-Creole Imagination at AAA 2015 in Denver

Tomorrow, I will be chairing and presenting on a panel of music and dance scholars discussing Michaeline Crichlow’s Globalization and the Post-Creole Imagination.  Professor Crichlow will be there to respond to our papers. This should be a great conversation.

Music and the Post-Creole Imagination

“Can creolization avoid incoherence?,” ask Michaeline Crichlow and Patricia Northover in the preface to their landmark book, Globalization and the Post-Creole Imagination: Notes on Fleeing the Plantation (Duke University Press, 2009). Indeed, following what amounted to a creolization fad in the social sciences and cultural studies in the 1980s and ’90s, it seemed that creoleness and creolization had lost much of their analytical potential, becoming little more than clichéd corollaries of a new global cosmopolitanism. More problematic still, as Stephane Palmié explained in a series of essays in 2007, a quasi-universalized concept of creolization risked effacing the history of racial oppression and economic exploitation that have defined European colonialism in the Caribbean. Thus, at the start of the new millennium, there was a need to reclaim creolization for those societies that experienced the first wave of European colonialism and whose new languages would come to inspire the field of creolization studies.

More or less directly inspired by Edouard Glissant’s poetics of Relation, a number of scholars have since sought to reconcile the specificity of creolization for post-plantation societies of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean with the concept’s relevance for the study of our contemporary global entanglements (Lionnet and Shih, Hesse, Verges). In perhaps one of the most sustained efforts in this vein, Crichlow and Northover propose to redefine creolization as an ontology through which to rethink the contemporary experience of spacial and temporal displacements of Caribbean subjects within global structures of power.

Our panel explores the role that music—as both commodity and practice—plays in the construction and expression of a post-creole imagination. Working from St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and Saint Lucia—small islands that are too often overlooked in Caribbean studies— our papers examine a number of popular music genres, music and dance education programs, as well as music festivals and tourism, thus illustrating a broad range of aesthetic, political, and economic entanglements. Collectively, we address the following questions that critically engage with the post-Creole imagination: How can the post-Creole imagination be made audible? Conversely, how does audibility help us better understand and map creolized postcolonial articulations and positionings? Specifically, how do music—and music education—participate in processes of “homing”? Can we think of Creole sounds as instantiating a particular type of heterotopia within a globalized modernity? Finally, can our ethnographically-informed studies of musical practices among Caribbean communities help us understand the continued significance of “creolization” and “creoleness” for people who define themselves as Creole and those who reject this characterization?

This panel offers a rare opportunity for a stimulating and direct conversation with Michaeline Crichlow who will offer her response to our papers. We will then invite questions and comments from conference participants, hoping to further elucidate the theoretical contributions of this important work as well as challenge some of its limits.


Jerome Camal, Chair and presenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Camee Maddox, presenter, University of Illinois

Timothy Rommen, presenter, University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Swanston Baker, presenter, Rutgers University

Jerry Wever, presenter, Spellman College

Michaeline Crichlow, discussant, Duke University