Visiting professor Shona Jackson of Texas A&M University spoke on indigeneity and Creole identity in the Caribbean on Wednesday night in the Walker-Ames Room in Kane Hall. Her lecture was part of the ongoing Stice lecture series, organized through the gender, women and sexuality studies department.
Jackson spoke to a group of about 50 students and faculty.
The Stice lecture series hosts three to four events a year through various departments associated with the social sciences. It covers a broad variety of subjects and, according to Professor Edgar Kiser, the series has run for approximately 30 years.
Jackson spoke of the disappearance of indigenous cultures in the Caribbean and how indigenous peoples’ identities differed in relation to people of African descent originally brought to the Caribbean as slaves. She said as native people gained recognition of their claim to their homeland, black people were unable to develop the same sense of belonging.
“Blacks essentially belonged to their skin and not to the land,” Jackson said.
Jackson outlined some of the history which brought about the Creolization of the Caribbean, including the idea that those who worked the land brought about the rise of a new sort of indigenous person.
“There was a disappearance of the ‘native’ and a reappearance of the new ‘native,’” she said.
Jackson explained how at the time the institution of slavery ended, the reparations received by black people as compensation for years of slavery also played a part in the disappearance of the original indigenous culture.
“Reparations show both the linking and the dealing out of freedom,” she said. “Because when blacks were asking for reparations for slavery … where does that come from, whose land is that?”
Chandan Reddy, associate professor of English and gender, women and sexuality studies, helped organize the lecture. He said the work Jackson does is vital to addressing oppressions from the past.
“She’s working to reveal the epistemic origins of why we feel there is such an impact in finding social justice for different groups that have been racialized by Western capitalism,” Reddy said.
Jackson also tied her research into current events such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
UW senior Megan Johnson heard about Jackson’s talk through an anthropology class on South Asian diaspora.
“I didn’t know anything about Creole identity or black identity so it was really interesting,” Johnson said.
Other students attended the lecture for class credit, or because they had heard about the lecture through one of the coordinating departments.
“This is the moment in which we are organizing for black lives against state violence, as well as undocumented people having rights in civil society, as well as ongoing native movements against native murder, and so we don’t know how to talk about these things together,” Reddy said. “And I really think she’s the voice of the moment, you know, she really helps us figure these things out.”
Reach reporter Johanna Lundahl at email@example.com. Twitter: Johanna18Kat