A student driven and created anthology focussed on promoting African and Caribbean studies and resources in BC. Now accepting submissions! All creative and academic writing by BC students who self identify as being of African or Caribbean descent.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What Can I Do To Become More Informed About Caribbean Culture and Society while I study at UBC?
Don't be afraid to take a risk and get involved. Not only is it unlikely, but it is illegal for a student club or organazation to discriminate based on many things including: race, colour, religion or sexual orientation.

You won't 'Rain On Our Parade'. The Caribbean and African Association, which is the organization that is helping to sponsor this project, represents students from almost 100 different countries. With that kind of diversity, ally work is an everyday practice and responsibility.

Campus clubs and other outside organizations celebrate diversity and often welcome and support volunteers and allies from all walks of life.

Some organizations to contact include:
Africa Awareness is a student driven initiative established two years ago at UBC. The main focus of Africa Awareness is the establishment of an African Studies program and to encourage a critical dialogue through scholastic discourses that would lead to the inclusivity of the African Studies in the academic institution. Africa Awareness comprises a Board, the Chair and Vice Chair which together organize an annual Conference/Symposium in January every year.

How About at UBC?
*Below is from the UBC Website and discusses the need for implementation of Caribbean Studies. Unfortunately this major will only be available at UBC Okanagan.

An Interdisciplinary Major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies,
with participation from Anthropology, Fine Arts, History, Modern
Languages (Spanish), Political Sciences, and Sociology,
Latin American and Caribbean Studies is a growing field of teaching
and research and should be an essential component of the programs
at UBC-Okanagan. In a world more and more internationalized, there
is an increasing demand for professionals with skills in international
affairs. In particular, with strong trade ties being developed in the
Americas through Free Trade and other initiatives, a Major in Latin
American and Caribbean Studies will fulfill a long-felt gap in academic
programming in the institution. More so, currently, OUC has a number
of academics with expertise (teaching and research) in Latin America
and the Caribbean to begin the development of such a program.
Student interest in this initiative has been proven by the large
enrolment in all the courses offered at OUC in this field of studies.
Resources to develop a language school in Latin America, library
resources, (books, journals films, documentaries). Also faculty with
specialization in the Caribbean for one or more of the following
Departments: Geography, Fine Arts and maybe others.
September 2005
Priority High

Is There Caribbean Studies in Canada?

Universities with Latin American and Caribbean Related Courses

Most Canadian universities offer courses in Latin American literature and culture within their Spanish language programmes. A few also offer Portuguese language programs, including Brazilian literature, and some English departments offer courses in English literature of the Caribbean.

York University and the University of Calgary are leaders, while the University of Toronto, Concordia and the University of British Columbia have begun to recognize the demand and offer classes in this area.

Is the Caribbean Really Queer-phobic?

‘Queer Islands?’ symposium will offer opportunity to discuss gay, lesbian life in Caribbean literature.

Tinsley said this conference serves a pressing need because the only public discussion currently taking place about the Caribbean and gays and lesbians usually focuses on homophobic lyrics in dancehall music, instances of violence against gay men in Jamaica or gay cruises being turned away from their vacation destinations. “This is all true, but there is much more to being queer and Caribbean than the high-profile press for those events suggests.”

Tinsley explained that many in the Caribbean see gay life as a North American import and something to be rejected. But that does not mean that gayness does not exist or that it is seen across the board as something to be shunned. “Naming oneself as lesbian or gay can be dangerous, but in some ways there is more space and acceptance for queerness there than in North America,” Tinsley said. “There are queer spaces in the Caribbean—they just don’t look like the queer spaces in North America.”

What Exactly is a Rastafarian?
From 1930 until the mid '60s, Rastafari was a local Jamaican religious movement with few outside influences. Several Garveyite leaders had independently declared that Haile Selassie fulfilled Garvey's prophecy, and the movement remained dominated by independent "Elders" with widely varying views. Not only did no Jamaica-wide "Rastafarian Church" develop, but there was not even agreement on basic doctrine or a canon of Scripture--both the Holy Piby and the King James Bible were used by various Elders, but were freely emended and "corrected". OVERSTANDING: This "anarchy" was considered a virtue by classical Rasta’s. Rastafari was not a religion, a human organization, or a philosophy, but an active attempt to discern the will of JAH (God) and keep it. Classical Rasta’s were mainly uneducated Third World peasants, but they approached Rastafari in an almost Talmudic spirit, holding "reasoning’s" --part theological debate, part prayer meeting-- at which they attempted to find the Truth.

Through an evolution into Zionistic ideologies Rasta’s do not eat pork, drink wine, eat fruits from the vine, most are vegetarian and many are vegan. Like many Zionists they do not cut their beards and most do not cut or brush their hair leaving what is called 'dreadlocks'. Like Zionists there is also a debate about Jesus as the one and only profit. Most Rasta’s believe the Selassie was the true holy prophet but the Bobo Shanti's ho are vegan and never show their hair believe in a more messianic approach to their Zionist philosophies.

And yes it is true the Marijuana is a sacred and holy herb for those of the Rasta faith.

Is All of the Caribbean Like Jamaica?
Since Jamaica is known for its reggae culture, foods, patois and tourism, the rest of the Caribbean has endured being mistaken for Jamaicans for many years, by many people.

While Jamaica has one of the largest Caribbean populations, and is well known for its Rastafarian culture, it is actually one of the few islands that has little ethnic diversity.

Most island nations of the Caribbean have a unique blend of ethnic groups coexisting as citizens of a single nation, and while the Caribbean is known for its Rastafarian culture, the reality is that Muslim and Christian sects are the dominant faiths of the region.

Are There Caribbean People In Canada?

    African Canadians have a very rich Canadian heritage dating back to 1518 when many

Africans were enslaved by European countries and brought to perform slave labour in the new

world. However, most Blacks immigrated to Canada from the Carribbean and the USA.

    After the American Revolution in 1776 many Black Loyalists left America and settled in

Upper Canada and the Maritimes; present day Ontario and Atlantic Provinces. Around the end of

1850 many small black communities began to spring up on the West Coast and in the prairies.

    Blacks from the Carribean began to immigrate to Canada in the 1850's and often settled in

eastern cities including York (Toronto) and Montreal.

So What Makes the Caribbean a Distinct Society?

In the Caribbean, the African descended majority had no pre-existing claims on the land, no widely accepted institutions which predated slavery and no historical continuity before their arrival in the region. Therefore national identity had to be created from scratch, and using only what was available. Given the polyglot nature of the community and their total isolation from previous custom and practice, the Black majority in the Caribbean territories ruled by Britain had no alternative but to echo and mirror the life of the British.

How Many Ethnic Groups Are Represented?
Because the Caribbean is made up of island nations as well as Latin American Nations almost every ethnic group and religion is represented on this small corner of the globe. Most Africans that were transported from their continent during the slave trade came from every indigenous tribe from coast to coast. Forced to homogenize themselves as blacks or Africans, language history and culture were stolen, and very little of their First Nation cultures and histories survived.

After the collapse of the slave trade and then slavery, a recession swept over this region and to revive labour shortages and economics, invitations to other areas of the globe were extended for labour opportunities.

Now, the blend of Indigenous American, African, Latino, Euro and Asian is apparent in almost every nation of the Caribbean.

While the most dominant languages are English and Spanish; French, Dutch and tribal languages are still in abundance.

Also what makes the languages of the Caribbean so interesting is that many of the island nations have what is know as a Creole or Patois, which is an amalgam am of the different colonizers language, indigenous and tribal languages, as well as newly invented slang. Patois dialects are different for each Nations.

When Was The Caribbean Discovered?

When Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492 there were three groups of Indians living on the islands. These were the Arawaks(Taino) and the Ciboney on the northern larger islands of the greater Antilles, the Bahamas and the Leeward Islands. On the Winward island-chain were the Caribs who also inhabited the Guianas-today Guyana, Suriname and Cayenne. Estimates of the original Amerindian inhabitants of the West Indies vary between 300,000 and several million. They did not migrate to the Caribbean as one family. The Ciboneys are believed to be the first to reach the Caribbean followed by the Arawaks and later the Caribs.
The Arawaks were very peaceful people and were involved in agriculture. They are believed to have originated in Asia. The Ciboney were fishermen but were forced to become hunters when forced away from their coastal locations. The Caribs, said to be immigrants from the mainland were warlike and reportedly cannibalistic. They were expert navigators and executed their raids on the Arawaks in canoes dug-out from the trunks of large trees. The Carib groups in the Guianas were less aggressive than their Antillean relatives though some were cannibalistic.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where is the Caribbean?

The West Indies are a group of islands lying in an arc between Florida in the US and the Venezuelan coast of South America.