Chapter

The predicament of history The predicament of history Bill Schwarz

Sue Thomas

in West Indian Intellectuals in Britain

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719064746
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700426 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719064746.003.0013
The predicament of history The predicament of history Bill Schwarz

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The term ‘West Indian’ always represented a complex of competing ideas, a resource for both colonial and anticolonial politics. West Indians were colonial Britons who experienced the civilisation of the British, in Britain, from a very particular vantage. Three overlapping and interconnected areas of thought are addressed: race and ethnicity; the project of decolonisation; and the historical imagination itself. The issue of the popular brought the cultural activists of Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) hard up against the question of British civilisation. It suggests that the work of decolonisation in its expansive register requires popular self-activity, not only on the part of the colonised but on the part too of the native citizens of the metropolis. Maybe in the future the most profound impact of Caribbean thought will be on the capacity to imagine the past, and to strive to bring it into consciousness.

Keywords: West Indian; Britain; British civilisation; race; ethnicity; decolonisation; historical imagination

Chapter.  4528 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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