Miss Always Stressed the Importance of Re-reading

In the introduction of Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s The Repeating Island, he presents a thought-provoking and illuminating concept; one that most certainly rouses the quintessential scholar or budding scholar of Caribbean literature and culture.  This idea of “rereading” the Caribbean I have likened to watching one of your favorite movies for the second or third time, and picking up on things that flew over your head or you paid little attention to your first time watching it. The second or third time around, the plot seems clearer, you have a better understanding of a particular character’s role, and in the end there is a deeper appreciation and connection you feel and another reason is added to the list of why the movie is one of your favorites. In his book, Benitez-Rojo sets out to give the Caribbean a second reading, not necessarily nullifying the way the region has been defined up until today, but rather adding some depth and dynamism and conjuring up new perspectives through which we can look at this meta-archipelago in all its poly-rhythmic glory.

The following protrudes from Benitez-Rojo’s introduction. He writes, “But how do we establish finally that the Caribbean is not just a multiethnic sea or group of islands divided by different languages … how do we establish that the Caribbean is an important historico-economic sea, a cultural meta-archipelago … a chaos within which there is an island that proliferates endlessly. Let’s talk then of a Caribbean we can see, touch, smell, hear, taste.” A direct response to this? The blog aptly named Repeating Islands. In reviewing this blog site, which is was so named in honor of Benitez-Rojo himself, I can see Benitez-Rojo’s agenda being perpetuated. An online space for scholars and readers of Caribbean literature and culture, Repeating Islands provides a platform for its learned audience to connect and share news and information relating to the region. Blog entries on topics around politics, culture, society, economics, technology and even history form the rich content of this website. Repeating Islands is an avenue through which the modern scholar can reread the Caribbean from many angles so that it is seen for more than what that history books have defined it to be. Take for instance this nod to the economic prowess of the Caribbean islands. In reading this blog entry, one can ascertain that, as explained in Benitez-Rojo’s book, the ports of Caribbean islands have played and continue to play an integral role in global economics. This fact is often times not captured in the first reading of the Caribbean and if it is, it is consumed in the gory images of the slavery.

Certainly, I feel a deeper sense of pride; my mind having been opened by Benitez-Rojo’s writing. I feel a greater sense of comfort knowing that websites like Repeating Islands exist. But still, there remains an issue of real trepidation: How many well-known online spaces through which a rereading of the Caribbean can be achieved, are available?

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