“Qu’est-ce Qu’elle Dit? What she say, what she say?” Translating the Resisting Other in Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Writing
I focus my discussion of Amryl Johnson’s poem “Qu’est-ce Qu’elle Dit”, Erna Brodber’s second novel Myal, and Merle Collins’s The Colour of Forgetting, on the texts’ representations of cultural difference and cultural transformation. The poem and the novels, I argue, present a version of Caribbean history that resists colonial discourse and that effects a process of healing and recovery from the epistemic violence of colonial historiography and the continued imposition of its cultural norms. At the same time I suggest that part of the process of resistance involves a radical reconceptualising and transformation of the Other. In these texts, what Nathaniel Mackey defines as “artistic othering”(55) is, as I wish to demonstrate in this article, a mode of resistance, a textual strategy that confronts, resists and refuses a too easy reappropriation of meaning, and yet insists on possibility. I approach the three texts as examples of counterdiscursive praxis, as texts which make “an intervention into postcolonial theoretical discourse” (O’Callaghan “Play It Back” 67). Amryl Johnson’s poem, from which the title of this paper comes, is emblematic of the tensions that arise in seemingly paradoxical processes of othering, reintegration and recovery in a creolized Caribbean context.