The period after Colonialism – when countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas liberated themselves from colonizing countries – brought with it a fervor for study around identity, cultural construction and cultural difference. Claire Laurier Decoteau, for example, examined the schizophrenic condition that occurs in states with a colonial past in her study of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The phrase “Postcolonial Paradox” was coined by Decoteau to define those nation states that “need to respect the demands of neoliberal capital in order to compete successfully on the world market and a responsibility to redress entrenched inequality, secure legitimacy from the poor, and forge a national imaginary.” This paradox can be observed across the globe where colonialism has been instituted and postcolonialism occurred as a corollary. In the Caribbean, the French, Portuguese and English colonizing states sought to avoid the reflection on a brutal past to repair the present and future conditions of Caribbean inhabitants and their descendants by securing this “national imaginary” and therefore allowing continued representation in a system of capital that undermines the greater population within those islands.
Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox, a current exhibition in the Museum Of African Diaspora (MOAD), in San Francisco, US, looks at the legacy of European colonialism in the Caribbean through the work of 10 contemporary artists: Firelei Báez, Leonardo Benzant, Andrea Chung, Lavar Munroe, Angel Otero, Phillip Thomas, Lucia Hierro, Adler Guerrier, Ebony G. Patterson, and Didier William. As the introductory text to the exhibition explains, the show’s title is inspired by “some of the core products that have historically been produced in, and exported from the Caribbean to the rest of the world – with a focus on Europe”. And furthermore: “A key driver of the exhibition is the theory that colonialism has continued to exist in other forms, and is in fact spreading through the export of soft power, the use of military force, the control of international financial and banking mechanisms, as well as the increase in globalization”.