Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas


Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas: Empires, Texts, Identities
Edited by Ralph Bauer and José Antonio Mazzotti
2009, University of North Carolina Press
502 pages

IF WE IN the “Old World” are truly honest, we would admit that a common and popular suspicion that Americans are somehow culturally “degenerate” in comparison with the mother cultures of the European continent persists. It is as wrong as it is offensive, groundless and absurd, but it is nonetheless there and reflected in the disdain and downright snobbery that, for example, some Britons often adopt surreptitiously towards their American cousins. That is one of the reasons why Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas is such a valuable text, tracing as it does over several centuries the debate over “creolization” that originated in the European theory that the adaptations of people who had settled in the Americas were, in fact, evidence of cultural degeneration. This debate, as the editors point out in the introduction to this excellent collection of 18 original essays, represents a theme of “powerful continuity” in the European response to America, and is as observable more recently in, say, reactions towards the pedestrian behaviour of such eminent Americans as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as it is towards the Latin American leaders held quietly but perpetually in contempt for their apparent inability to impose order over their unruly societies. Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas explores comparatively ideological, literary and scientific notions about creolization in colonial Latin and British America. By bringing together both parts of the hemisphere, it offers a powerful resource in the critical debate about creole subjectivity and a way forward in the effort to transcend modern and early modern national and imperial boundaries in the study of the colonial Americas. It can also serve to remind us of the many ambiguities of such terms as colonial and postcolonial, and the cultural complexity of the imperial relationship in its ancient, and more modern, forms. – GO’T

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