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Theorizing world culture through the New World: East Indians and creolization



This article is an ethnographic inquiry into the production of theory. In it, I specifically ask why the concept “creole” has assumed such significance today for theorists working outside the Caribbean for interpreting the dynamics of cultural change globally. Relocating “creole” in its historical and regional context, I analyze how and why interculturation, an essential feature of creolization that is championed by global theorists, is transformed into acculturation when creolization theory is applied to East Indians in Trinidad. I argue that creolization fails as theory with respect to East Indians because of its ontology as a schizophrenic theory, that is, one in which theory and ideology are conflated. I call for a reconceptualization of creolization theory by first recognizing the limitations imposed by such instances of epistemological collapse.

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