The Convict and the Colonel

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Beacon Press, 1998 - History - 284 pages
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The life of Medard Aribot - Martiniquan artist, convict, madman, legend - spans much of the twentieth century. Born in 1901 when slavery was a living memory, Medard was banished to the Devil's Island penal colony because, people say, he carved the "impertinent" bust of a colonel hoisted overhead by rioters during a 1925 election-day protest that ended in massacre. Today, the miniature gingerbread-style house he built on his return to Martinique has become a popular tourist attraction. Richard Price draws on long-term ethnography, archival documents, newspapers, old love letters, cinema, street-theater, and Caribbean fiction and poetry to explore how one generation's powerful historical metaphors could so quickly become the next generation's trivial pursuit. Using the election-day massacre and the life of Aribot as emblems of Martinique's transition from colonialism to modernity, Price shows how the fishing village he encountered on his first trip to Martinique in 1962 has been transformed by a heavily assisted welfare-based consumer economy. And how Medard's art and life, once a subversive symbol of anticolonial sentiment, has been silenced by the contemporary rush to modernity...or has it?

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The convict and the colonel

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Part ethnography, part oral history, and part autobiography, this book explores the reinterpretation of Martinique's history through the personal and collective memory of several generations of its ... Read full review

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I would give the first two chapters of this book a 4. I would give the last chapter maybe a 2-2.5. But with the Afterword, it balances out to a 3 or so. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Richard Price divides his time between rural Martinique and the College of William and Mary, where he is Dittman Professor of American Studies and Professor of Anthropology and History. His many books include First-Time, winner of the Elsie Clews Parsons Prize of the American Folklore Society, Stedman's Surinam (with Sally Price), and Alabi's World, recipient of the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Award and the Gordon K. Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarshipall three available as Johns Hopkins paperbacks.

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