All Creoles Now? Béké Identity and the Eloge de la créolité

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Abstract

Békés (white Creoles) are the descendants of the original plantation owners in the Antilles. They remain economically dominant in the islands, forming a privileged and self-segregating minority. They are, perhaps surprisingly, invoked by Raphaël Confiant as fundamental to both Éloge de la créolité's conception and failure. This essay analyzes a number of texts (novels, films, manifestos) produced by, or about, békés since 1989, to investigate how the principles valorized in the Éloge have resonated (or have failed to resonate) with békés: Marie-Reine de Jaham's La grande béké and its TV adaptation; Roger de Jaham's Tous Créoles! movement; and Romain Bolzinger's documentary Les derniers maîtres de la Martinique. Through the prism of the manifesto, the essay sketches a number of tropes, images, and discursive positions that, whether directly influenced by créolité or articulated in opposition (or in parallel) to it, illuminate the (lack of) development in béké identity politics over the last quarter century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-232
Number of pages13
JournalSmall Axe
Volume21
Issue number1 (52)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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