Before you begin this assignment, read the excerpt from A Small Place, which you will find in Week 10 Readings. NOTE: A word of warning, Jamaica Kincaid’s essay is known for her anger. In it, she leverages anger–the rant–as a rhetorical tool. As a result, you will notice, she has long parenthetical points, asides, and includes repeated jabs at tourists and colonizers. This is a rhetorical strategy, but it does often upset people who are reading it for the first time. Please, take the anger with a grain of salt and pay attention to the arguments she is making. She’s discussing a specific kind of tourist and she’s also alternating between discussing colonizers and tourists. This is an important academic text for understanding tourism and Neo-colonialism and it is seminal in many ways.
For context, Antigua is a very small island, and it is usually referred to as “Antigua and Barbuda”, pairing it with another island in the tiny island chain that makes up the Leeward Islands. There are about 80,000 people living in the Leeward Islands, but in 2015, the islands saw almost a million tourists! (For comparison, FIU’s student population is 55k, and Liberty City has a population of about 50k, Miami has a population of almost 3 million.)
The questions below are long because I’m trying to contextualize my questions and give you options for responding. I want your overall answer to #1-3 to be at least 400 words and make specific references to the text.
1. Based on the topic you wrote about for the “Choose Your Own Adventure”, respond to one of the prompts below:
- If you wrote about cars in Miami: think about how Kincaid depicts cars and roads in the text. (p 9-12). For example, what do the cars and road space reveal about the ways that insiders/outsiders are experiencing Antigua? What does it reveal about the way that resources are used in Antigua? Are roads/cars a symbol of equality, or of something else?
- If you wrote about climate gentrification: A) think about the natural resources described by Kincaid and the way they are used. For example, closely read the section on page 12-14. Or, b) you can think about the ways that the Mill Reef Club (a private resort) works like a kind of white space (or suburb) to “protect” white inhabitants from black Antiguans.
- If you wrote about the past and identity-making on social media: the text was written before social media, but I think there are still connections to be made here. A) You could think about the way tourists describe the locals, as described by Kincaid on page 16-18, and imagine that she had written this text after the advent of social media. How do we (people) craft images of places we visit that may be simplifying/mischaracterizing the *reality* of those people/places? And/or B) What is the reality of the the lives of Antiguans, according to Kincaid, and how is it shaped by the past–how is it ignored by the tourists who visit?
2. Throughout the text, Kincaid plays with inside/outside. For example, she talks about how “outsiders” like tourists and colonizers came to Antigua to take what they want; how “insiders” like Antiguans know the ‘real’ Antigua–how they are maybe even trapped (“inside”) and don’t have the conditions to leave the island. However, sometimes it’s the Antiguans who she describes as the “outsiders”. For example, she spends some time discussing the “Mill Reef Club”, which is an institution that would be similar to what we would call an “all-inclusive resort” today (p. 27). She also discusses schools and doctor’s offices that are/were designed to exclude black Antiguans (p. 28-29). Respond to one of these options:
- Discuss what you think Kincaid is trying to show about the power dynamics inherent in inside/outside, as it relates to native, tourism, and colonialism. How can this inside/outside dichotomy enrich our understanding of the power dynamics related to tourism?
- Discuss the tension between how the three different groups (colonizers, tourists, Antiguans) are “seeing” and experiencing Antigua, based on their positionality. Pick at least one example from the text to explore.
3. This question has two parts. Throughout the text, Kincaid makes references to monuments and street naming (p. 3, p. 24-25, p. 30, p. 36). Then she says, on p. 32: ” the language of the criminal [colonizer] can contain only the goodness of the criminal’s deed. The language of the criminal can explain and express the deed only from the criminal’s point of view. It cannot contain the horror of the deed, the injustice of the deed, the agony, the humiliation inflicted on me. When I say to the criminal, “This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong,”…the criminal understands the word ‘wrong’…[only] when ‘he’ doesn’t get his fair share….That must be why, when I say, ‘I am filled with rage,’ the criminal says ‘But why?'”
a. What do these references to street naming and monuments show about who designed the monuments and why these monuments might upset Kincaid? What does this quote reveal about why the tourist/colonizer see these streets and monuments as ‘neutral’ while Kincaid does not? How does this help us understand, according to Kincaid, who Antigua is for?
b. Look over p. 35- 37 closely. This is one of the angriest parts of Kincaid’s text and it creates an emotional response in the reader. However, try to look past the tone and consider how she’s connecting the history of slavery, colonization, monuments, and the way economies work today. How is it related? (You can reference other parts of the text.)
4. Make a connection: Pick one option to respond to (at least 100 words):
- Using Kincaid’s writing style as inspiration, write a one-paragraph rant against tourists in your area (Miami). What do you think they think about you and your city when they come here? What do they not know? What do they not think of or not see? What history influences your experience of this place? What history can they not see when they come?
- On p. 77-80, Kincaid describes Antigua in all the ways that a tourist might say “cannot be real” (“too good to be true”), making the point that it is real, and the effects of the place on the people who live there are real (even though not much changes physically about the island throughout history). Using this passage as inspiration, describe the best parts of your city (Miami), from a tourist’s perspective. Like she does, focus on the things that tourists see when they come here, and use the same “no real x” language (no real sand, no real water, etc).
LINK TO READINGS: https://www.d.umn.edu/~pfarrell/Latin%20America/pdfs%20of%20readings/Jamaica%20Kinkaid%20A%20Small%20Place%20EXCERPTED.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1bys3nInEiuV8Q139THMM_1Gx5jjw1u3CiWL1M2Vi31Z_k1p1G5wmSLUQ