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The Caribbean: Culture or Mimicry?

  • Derek Walcott (a1)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


We live in the shadow of an America that is economically benign yet politically malevolent. That malevolence, because of its size, threatens an eclipse of identity, but the shadow is as inescapable as that of any previous empire. But we were American even while we were British, if only in the geographical sense, and now that the shadow of the British Empire has passed through and over us in the Caribbean, we ask ourselves if, in the spiritual or cultural sense, we must become American. We have broken up the archipelago into nations, and in each nation we attempt to assert characteristics of the national identity. Everyone knows that these are pretexts of power if such power is seen as political. This is what the politician would describe as reality, but the reality is absurd.



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Editor's Note: This essay was prepared by Derek Walcott for presentation at the University of Miami American Assembly on the United States and the Caribbean in April 1973.


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A correction has been issued for this article: