Transversal: Créolisation (English version)

A Transversal Escape: « Créolisation »

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« Créolisation » (According to Edouard Glissant):

Edouard Glissant defines the key notion of « créolisation » as the confrontation of disparate elements belonging to several distinct cultures, which can result in the creation of completely unforeseeable new things that stretch far beyond a cultural juxtaposition or even a negotiated synthesis of the diverse elements at hand.

Edouard Glissant clarifies his thought in the following manner:

The world becomes creolized, that is to say that the world cultures, today brought into contact one with another in a thundering and absolutely conscious manner, are changing in exchanging, through irremediable collisions, merciless wars, but also with forward movements of consciousness and hope, which allow us to say – without being utopist, or rather, in accepting to be so – that human groups today abandon, with difficulty, what they obstinately held to for a long time, namely that the identity of a human being is only valid and recognizable if it is exclusive of the identity of all the other possible beings.”
(Introduction à une poétique du divers, Paris: Gallimard, 1996, p. 15), our translation.

Glissant uses the image of the “circularity” of the spiral, in order to oppose it to the “arrowed projection” of colonization (Introduction à une poétique du divers, p. 14). For him, a memorial trace, like the one reconstituted by the American black slaves and “valid for all”, is opposed to the so-called universal « thought proceeding by systems” or « systems of thought » (p. 17). He says: “The trace supposes and carries not the thought of being but the wandering of the existing” (p. 69). According to him, « créolisation » can be achieved only if the cultural elements at hand are rigorously “equivalent in value”, so that a given cultural group would not impose on another its methods, practices and concepts. He chooses the term “créolisation” in preference to “métissage” (interbreeding), because, he writes, “’créolisation’ is unpredictable while it is possible to calculate the effects of interbreeding” (page 19). He sees « créolisation » as a dynamic process, which cannot be decreed in advance, and should emerge from walking on a pathway, from a transversal going through.

Contributions of the PaaLabRes Collective – 2015
Translation Jean-Charles and Nancy François

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