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  • The Cunning of Multiculturalism: A Perspective from the Caribbean

    Viranjini Munasinghe

    Chapter from the book: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M. 2019. Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice.


    Chapter 11 examines the case of Trinidad and Tobago, concentrating on the approach to cultural diversity on the politically dominant, and more populous and diverse, island of Trinidad. The absence of a clear symbolic core to the nation—whether homogenous settler or indigenous—shapes Trinidadian multiculturalism, which is marked by a struggle where ethnic groups battle for the nation against the background of a rigid colonial racial hierarchy of Europeans as masters, Africans as slaves and East Indians as indentured laborers. The legacy of this colonial racialization, combined with national imperatives to indigenize and mediate diversity, subsequently fixed African ancestry as the ideological culture-history referent. Yet these homogenizing national narratives of creolization cannot consolidate either African or Indian ancestry as the nation’s symbolic core, leading to recent Indo-Trinidadian accusations of state bias in sponsorship of Afro-Trinidadian culture, and faltering attempts to institute a European-style multiculturalism.

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    Munasinghe, V. 2019. The Cunning of Multiculturalism: A Perspective from the Caribbean. In: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M (eds.), Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.73.k

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    Published on July 12, 2019