Race-crossings at the crossroads of African American travel in the Caribbean
AuthorAlston, Vermonja Romona
Business Administration, Marketing.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractTraversing geographical borders frequently allows people the illusion of crossing social, political, and economic boundaries. For African-Americans of the early twentieth century, crossing physical borders offered the promise of freedom from racial segregation and discrimination in all aspects of social, political, and cultural life. Haiti became a site for African-American imaginings of a free and just society beyond the problem of the color line. From the 1920's through the 1980's, African-American travel writing was strategically deployed in efforts to transform a U.S. society characterized by Jim Crow segregation. In the process, Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean were romanticized as spaces of racial equality and political freedom. This project examines the ways in which the Caribbean has been packaged by and for African-Americans, of both U.S. and Caribbean ancestry, as a place to re-engage with romanticized African origins. In the selling of the Caribbean, cultural/heritage tourism, romance/sex tourism and ecotourism all trade on the same metaphors of loss and redemption of the innocence, equality, and purity found in a state of nature. Through analyses of standard commercial tourism advertising alongside of travel writing, I argue that with the growth of the black middle-class in the late 1980's crossings to the Caribbean have become romantic engagements with an idealized pastoral past believed lost in the transition to middle-class prosperity in the United States. African-American travel writers, writing about the Caribbean, tend to create a monolithic community of cultural belonging despite differences of geography and class, and gender hierarchies. Thus, African-American travelers' tales constitute narratives at the crossroads of celebrations of their economic progress in the United States and nostalgia for a racial community believed lost on the road to suburban prosperity. For them, the Caribbean stands in as the geographical metaphor for that idealized lost community.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies