Carolyn Cooper’s lesson on different ways of being
Despite its focus on dancehall music, one of the key texts I would advise university-level Literature students use in the academic criticism of Caribbean performance is Soundclash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large by Jamaican critic Carolyn Cooper. This work provides indelible assistance in understanding and discussing the manner in which Caribbean ways of being differ from standard Western ontological methods. This work proved more helpful and comforting to me in writing my Master’s dissertation in Caribbean Studies than any other work by any other Caribbean critic. This is because often Caribbean critics, professors and theorists alike use such distant, unwieldy language and overly-exhausted ideas that it alienates the reader. They write in this way to legitimise their work in the eyes of the international academy, though they already condescend those not of the First World, despite their supposed interest in ‘post-colonial studies’ , ‘minority studies’, ‘the exotic other’, etc. They believe that in order to be recognised by international theorists, they need to write like them. And so many Caribbean thinkers, attempting to endear themselves to those of the Empire, rather end up becoming the Empire. They re-hash their ideas, speak their language better than the colonizers themselves. They become mimic men. One issue I’ve detected with post-colonialism is the fact that the hyphen and the word “colonialism” reveals a sustained interest in what the colonizers once said. It is a clear acknowledgement of the epistemological influence of the colonizer on the way so-called third world academics think today. The long and short of this critique is that much of it adds little to the originality. The ideas are not new and are not progressive in any way or fashion. Academics should push the boundaries of theory further to accommodate their realities.