In History Jamaica Kincaid

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They are usually a bequest. They sound pleasing. They are more than a few letters assembled together – they define things and ultimately us. A reader of Jamaica Kincaid’s writings probably knows that her writings explore colonialism and imperialism, and if not, will learn of this in her essay “In History”. The question “What is history?” is repeated several times throughout Jamaica Kincaid’s essay. Initially, it appears Kincaid is exploring where history begins and what constitutes history. However on closer examination, it is apparent she is exploring the significance of names and naming in the construction, conquest and preservation of identities. Kincaid’s identity seems to lie at the core of “In History”. Names function as a principal…show more content…
According to Kincaid, “the place which forms the foundation of the person you see before you” was completely altered when Columbus began renaming in her environment. “The first few things that he came on were named after things that were prominent in his thinking” and ultimately altered her identity through depersonalization and by reshaping her environment. In fact, when Kincaid describes the place she is from she reveals, “the place I am from is named after a church. This church might have been an important church to Christopher Columbus, but churches are not important, originally, to people who look like me.” This convenient process of classification eventually changed the collective identities of the people who were being enslaved. And the enslaved themselves altered their identity by adopting conveniences of their captors - The people “who looked like me” have even come to believe in the gods of the people who had conquered them, ultimately changing the foundation of their…show more content…
Linnaeus went to Holland where he encountered different species of plants from all over the world. He named them and developed the binomial nomenclature system used today and possibly indefinitely. All plants have a “common name, that is the name assigned to them by people for whom these plants have value, and then they have a proper name, or a Latin name, and that is a name assigned to them by an agreed-on group of botanists.” Kincaid conveys her bitterness for the decrees that were forced onto the natives by the conquerors for whom the fauna and flora are just part of a new landscape. They were forced to learn and use the scientific names of plants and animals for which they already had a perfectly functioning native designation. Kincaid continuously questions Linnaeus’s right to name species of plants, which mirrors Kincaid’s historical representation of Columbus’s indifference to the existing world; the one that was there before the New World. While Kincaid accepts the new identities of these plants bequeathed by Linnaeus, up to a point, she has not relinquished control of her past, her history or her heritage: she resists and defies the use of some scientific

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