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Seven: Dutch Caribbean Women's Literary Thought: Activism through Linguistic and Cosmopolitan Multiplicity.


There is a cultural and identity politics that underline the literary narrative in the Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean diaspora. The colonial history coupled with linguistic, social, political, and economic developments on the island certainly speak to the body of literature produced by Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean novelists and poets. This region in the Caribbean has continued to produce literary works often times invisible to Euro-Dutch, non-Dutch, and nonPapiamentu/o speakers. There is fortunately a steady growing interest in Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean literature with the understanding that these works may speak to the cultural core of the island. Translations of the works by Curacaoan writers are now readily available, and complete journal collections and anthologies in English have been dedicated to Dutch Caribbean literature.1

This article is another contribution to the much-needed examination of Dutch Caribbean literature and culture. I introduce an overview of some of the literature by a select group of five Curacaoan women novelists and poets who either introduce women characters or themes about women in their works. Among the five are the canonical novelists and poets from the 1970s and 1980s, Diana Lebacs (b.1947), and Nydia Ecury (1926-2012), with the remaining three being the more contemporary 21st century poets, Myra Romer2 (b.1946), Aliefka Bijlsma (b.1971), and Mishenu Osepa-Cicilia (b.1978). I choose five novelists and poets to project a comprehensive and assorted overview of contemporary Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean women's literature. The intention here is to: (1) extend upon the already established literary analysis about Dutch Caribbean women writers, (2) commence a critical dialogue about a women's literary thought from the Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean diaspora, and (3) to interpret the vernacular of this literary thought. Though I do acknowledge the work that has come before this paper (Thierlynck,1986; Eijck van, 1999; Abraham, 1999; Rutgers, 1988), I believe that the overview of the works by this combination of women novelists and poets from the Curacaoan diaspora could offer an extended insight on a woman's literary thought.

My ambitious attempt to interpret the vernacular of a Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean women's literary thought has lead me to question whether we can even conceive of a philosophy or theory that underpins women's literature from the Curacaoan diaspora? If we look at the works by Caribbean women writers in general, we see that there are themes and patterns that suggest that the experience of the female characters in literary works particularly written by women comprise the quest for self-actualization and selfdetermination in multiple facets of their lives. This pursuit almost parallels the history of much of the Caribbean with many islands still caught in national struggles for cultural, economic, juridical, and/or political self-sufficiency, as they are still dependent on the former colonial metropolis for global direction and security. This is no different in the Dutch Caribbean which consists of islands still partially or fully dependent on the Netherlands. The ways in which islanders maneuver this status of partial dependence to project and perform an authentically Curacaoan identity lies at the core of a Dutch Caribbean specificity to women's literary thought.

What is certain is that much of contemporary Curacaoan Dutch Caribbean literature has and continues to come about within the historical context of an island and a people still juggling with different ways of affirming constitutional, juridical, political, and cultural autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom. The literature is then, by extension, a reflection of the Dutch Caribbean history that swirls around national challenges for self-determination within the Dutch Kingdom.3 The federation of Caribbean islands that constituted the Netherlands Antilles had over decades undergone a steady move towards defining the kind of country they wanted to be(come)....

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Cornet, Florencia, V, Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies
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Title Annotation:Diana Lebacs, Nydia Ecury, Myra Romer, Aliefka Bijlsma and Mishenu Osepa-Cicilia
Author:Cornet, Florencia, V.
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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