Writing Out Loud: Cultural Identity and Diaspora

Hall examines the meaning and social construction of cultural identity, highlighting how people construct identities through shared history, culture, and power. As you read, consider the following questions.

Theme: Rise of the Avatar


  1. Hall argues that there are two ways to think about cultural identity--one that reaches back to an essential historical identity and the other that creates a new identity by selectively drawing on history, culture, and power. Why does Hall argue that we should think about cultural identity as a cultural production rather than something essential to a group of people sharing ancestry or history?
  2. Hall argues that people construct identities by simultaneously highlighting BOTH similarity and continuity with the past AND difference and rupture from it. What does he mean, and how does he argue that Caribbean identities have been constructed through similarity/continuity and rupture/difference?
  3. Hall highlights three sources of Caribbean identity: African history and ancestry, European colonialism, and the presence of the “New World.” How do each of these “presences” contribute to Caribbean identity, and why is it essential to consider all three in understanding what it means to be a person from the Caribbean?
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