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Imagining Community
Liberty or freedom is necessary for social justice. Benedict Anderson wrote, “Finally, it [the
nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and
exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal
comradeship.” The keywords here are “horizontal” and “comradeship.” “Horizontal”
implies the opposite of “hierarchical;” whereas, “colonialism,” “ neocolonialism” and
“colonial imperialism” imply hierarchical or vertical lines of power that limit freedom and
empowerment. “Comradeship,” like “brotherhood” implies equality … and I would argue that
imagination is necessary to share the vital understandings of profound equality that make
community possible.
We have read multiple texts that bear on how we can imagine equality as vital for community. In
an initial imaginative engagement, Derek Walcott presents a “demotic” or culturally and racially
diverse Antilles that transcends its fragments. In “Letter Sycorax,” Kamau Brathwaite uses the
multilevel ironies associated with the Caliban figure to write of the needs of an “a-we” (an “all
we” or “all of us”). Other readings this term have challenged the racial and class dividing lines
that can work against community. These dividing lines, whether associated with class or
colonialism, are disruptive of community in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The writing of Aimé
Césaire is profoundly about the discovery of equality within the individual and collective
consciousness. The sections of Texaco that describe the “noutéka of the hills” and the actual
functioning of the neighborhood of Texaco within the city of Fort-de France exemplify a
communal willingness to help one another almost as a matter of law, as a matter of unwritten law
(Texaco 131). In different ways, multicultural constructs like hybridity, mestizaje, and negritude
breakdown divisive polarities.
Your task is to explain this observation and then write an original conclusion about how one
might best imagine or conceive community. You will discuss the imaginative value of at least two
of these three texts: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Notebook of a Return to a Native Land,
In addition to using texts drawn from class readings you must locate useful secondary sources,
possibly, at least 6 or 8. The paper itself must be between 8-10 pages, double spaced, paginated
and following MLA guidelines for documentation. It is due by noon on 5.05.