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The Oral Heritage and Linguistic Heteroglossia of Post-Colonial Writings: Bob Marley and the Anglophone Caribbean as a Case Study

Barreca, Elena

In Caribbean literature the discourse on identity is stressed by a state of diaspora:
the memory of slavery must be transmitted together with the African cultural
heritage. However, this necessity is marked by the impossibility of a fixed and
enrooted cultural definition: as exemplified by the Caribbean, the post-colonial
identity emerges in a multicultural, ever-changing space, creating new, vibrant
transcultural forms. There is a constant dialogue in Caribbean writings between
several voices: European languages become saturated with the African model,
western aesthetical frameworks are opened up in a constant attempt to express
the historical reality of a polyglot, problematic and overwhelming identity. Elements
that Mikahil Bakhtin found as characterizing for the ever-changing novel
have now become central in post-colonial writings: heteroglossia, the social reality
of language can not be further avoided; hybridity becomes a transfiguring power,
which challenges colonial linguistic centralization and textual narratives. The interrelationship
between orality ad literacy creates a continuum between extempore
oral performances and formal scribal texts: therefore any study of Caribbean
literature must take into account native musical forms, as Calypso and reggae, and
their role in the African diaspora. Deeply influenced by the post-colonial reality
reggae lyrics present us with an outstanding example of linguistic restructuring
and aesthetic creation.
The article explores the relevance of Mikhail Baktin theories for post-colonial literature,
taking the Anglophone Caribbean as a case study: a first part will provide
a theoretical overlook, whereas the second part would go into the detail of textual
analysis.

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