Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture

What's In a Name? Geography, Governance, and the Grit of National Identity

February 21, 2024 Alexandria Miller Episode 77
Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture
What's In a Name? Geography, Governance, and the Grit of National Identity
Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and +
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Show Notes Transcript

Join us as we voyage through the seas of Caribbean geography and politics as we explore the layers of history etched into nations' names and named and unnamed islands that are part of them. From twin islands like Antigua and Barbuda to archipelagos such as The Bahamas, we explore the entwined nature of geography and governance and how it shapes the cultural identity of these nations and delve into the complex political relationships that define the Caribbean narrative, including the dependencies of Carriacou and Petit Martinique to Grenada and the independence movements that have left an indelible mark on the region.

Have you considered how a name can capture a multitude of stories, struggles, and triumphs? In this episode, we invite you to reflect on the tales of Antigua and Barbuda's journey to their current standing, and the impact of political status on the names and recognition of Caribbean nations. No stone is left unturned as we examine the lesser-known facts about dependencies and political autonomy within this diverse and dynamic region.

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Produced by Breadfruit Media

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Strictly Facts, a guide to Caribbean history and culture, hosted by me, alexandra Miller. Strictly Facts teaches the history, politics and activism of the Caribbean and connects these themes to contemporary music and popular culture. Hello, hello, mokwon Ketal, welcome back to another episode of Strictly Facts, a guide to Caribbean history and culture, and I'm your host, alexandra Miller. Fresh off the heels of Carnival celebrated in the Twin Islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and after being a recent guest on the Impostrix podcast and the episode will debut soon where we talked briefly about Caribbean geography, there are so many interesting facts that really came to my mind in thinking about the Caribbean landscape. Like Trinidad and Tobago, we have quite a few Twin Islands in the region, like Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitsa, nevis, just to name a few. In addition to Twin Islands, though, we also have several island chains, otherwise known as Archipelagos, and so you could think of the Bahamas or the Grenadines, part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and then there are also nations and islands comprised of several other smaller islands and caves, and it becomes a whole thing when we think about the size of the land mass. And so, for instance, the Goat Islands and Meaden Bay are part of Jamaica, and Sauna and Biatta are part of the largest islands that make up the Dominican Republic's territory. What I found interesting in looking into our geography and the facts surrounding it is just how nations were named and how, yet again, we see geography bleeding into our politics and political nature. And so, for the most part, some of these smaller islands and caves are uninhabited. They might serve varying purposes. For the case of Sauna Island in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica's Goat Islands, they are protected areas and nature reserves in their respective governments. But in this way I could understand, for instance, why Jamaica isn't named.

Speaker 1:

Jamaica and the Goat Islands right, but that isn't always the case. There are definitely some instances that these nations have names and have other islands that you know are not incorporated in these names. So you may remember back to our episode on Grenada Spice Mass, where we briefly delved into talking about the festival, culture and traditions of Caracou. So, for those who might not remember, the nation of Grenada is made up of Grenada itself, as well as two smaller islands, caracou and Petit Martinique, as well as several smaller islands and caves. Both Caracou and Petit Martinique are inhabited islands in this case, and in researching the country's names, I learned that Caracou and Petit Martinique are dependencies of Grenada and have been ever since Grenada became independent in 1974. So also definitely have to give a big shout out to the Spice Isle for celebrating 50 years of independence. So this reminded me of the political case of the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos that we talked about some time ago.

Speaker 1:

There are, however, some situations where this dependency thing gets a little bit more complicated right, and so I immediately looked into Barbuda, of Antigua and Barbuda, which originally and technically was a dependency of Antigua. This stemmed back to colonial times, where Barbuda became a dependency of Antigua in 1859. And so very similar situation to Jamaica, turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands. However, differently though, barbuda was granted the status of autonomy in 1956, while this is again still amidst and at the height of our independence movements throughout the region, right. So, as many might remember, we had the West Indian Federation that ultimately did not work to join all of our islands, and so each nation well colony at the time, you know, was experiencing different levels of how to transition out of colonial status, and so at this time, antigua became known as the associated state of Antigua, briefly, from 1967 to 1981, at which point they got independence, joining together with Barbuda. So it seemed in my research that political status is really the culprit behind how we named each other. I don't think if Barbuda had gotten that autonomous status after being a dependency of Antigua, had they not secured that autonomous status in 1976, we would have the country known as Antigua and Barbuda today.

Speaker 1:

But you know, feel free to let me know your thoughts on that. So, otherwise, you know, I really think that, again, that is the major deciding factor between these names and impacting the nations and how they are and have since been named. And so, overall, I just wanted to share a little piece of Caribbean geography and history with you all today. What are your thoughts about our islands and nations names? For any listeners from Petit Martinique or somewhere of the similar situation, do you wish your island was included in the national name? And for everyone else, be sure to let me know if you enjoyed this what's in a Name episode and I'll be sure to explore some other interesting facts and things moving forward from here. Otherwise, till next time, little more. Thanks for tuning in to Strictly Facts. Visit StrictlyFactsPodcastcom for more information from each episode. Follow us at Strictly Facts Pod on Instagram and Facebook and at Strictly Facts PD on Twitter.

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