Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2020
Since the seventeenth century, the Caribbean existed in the European imagination as a place of unfreedom, in opposition to European enlightenment and liberty. But the voices of the enslaved in the Caribbean, which are often tucked away in the writings of others, such as spiritual and conversion narratives, abolitionist speeches and portraits in ‘manners and customs’ accounts, or more ephemeral narrative fragments – offer a more complicated picture. Compared to the United States, far fewer texts that conform to the slave narrative genre survived from the Caribbean, and virtually all are mediated by a white amanuensis. This essay argues that despite this mediation, the slave narrative can be understood as dialogic, as a combined effort. Grounded in the notion of ‘creole testimony’ – a hybrid version that combines written with oral input and insists on reading against the grain to hear the subaltern’s voice – this essay demonstrates the utility of this strategy through reading several narratives by enslaved Caribbean women.