Accepted Paper:

"Creole" as a model of culture?  


Steve Coleman (Maynooth University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically examines recent discussions of culture, "cultural hybridity" and "creolisation." These are analysed as residues of several crossings between racial, linguistic and cultural practices, theories and discourses, behind which lurks the chimerical figure of the “non-hybrid.”

Paper long abstract:

This paper critically examines recent debates on the nature of culture. In the last several years concepts such as "cultural hybridity" and "creolisation" have come to the fore in anthropological attempts to deal with what appear to be new cultural forms and practices in a post-modern idiom. In an attempt to overcome what were seen as narrowly monolithic conceptions of culture, various models have been advanced which draw on "creole" linguistics and the ethnography of "creole" societies. Types of societies, languages and/or cultures considered "mixed, hybrid, creole," formerly confined to the margins of the ethnographic record, are being brought into the spotlight and even proposed as models for a new understanding of "globalised" humanity. This process has sparked a series of fairly intense debates. Have we been witnessing a process whereby once-pristine cultures are "brought into contact" under modernity, or was the entire concept of (unitary) culture an ideological fiction to begin with? To what extent is the "creole" concept of culture beholden to that which it seeks to displace?

Panel W113
Creolizing anthropology: connectivity, diversity, and reflexivity in a globalizing world