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An election day massacre in colonial Martinique. A “mad” artist who lives in a cave. A satirical wooden bust of a white colonel. The artist’s banishment to the Devil’s Island penal colony for “impertinence.” And a young anthropologist who arrives in Martinique in 1962, on the eve of massive modernization.
In a stunning combination of scholarship and storytelling, the award-winning anthropologist Richard Price draws on long-term ethnography, archival documents, cinema and street theater, and Caribbean fiction and poetry to explore how one generation’s powerful historical metaphors could so quickly become the next generation’s trivial pursuit, how memories of oppression, inequality, and struggle could so easily become replaced by nostalgia, complicity, and celebration.
“A superb callaloo of a book. . . . Richard Price has a remarkable grasp of the literatures of the Caribbean, and draws on this resource to explore the underlying insanity of the colonial experience, as well as the bewildering complexities of the postcolonial world where memory is erased or invented according to the demands of a market modernity.”—George Lamming, author of The Pleasures of Exile
“By beautifully crafting elements as disparate as biographical data, sociological studies, literary sources, and archival documents, Richard Price’s research is more fascinating than a piece of fiction.”—Maryse Condé, author of I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem
“Price does it again. Mixing eras, genres, and voices, he carries the reader through the contradictory streams of historical consciousness in the Caribbean island of Martinique. The result is as complex and as enticing as the sea it evokes.”—Michel-Rolph Trouillot, author of Silencing the Past
“Filled with insights that are at once theoretical, methodological, and ethnographic, The Convict and the Colonel is required reading for anyone interested in colonialism, memory, and contemporary Caribbean societies.”—Jennifer Cole, American Ethnologist