CLS Speaker Series - John McWhorter (Columbia University) The missing Spanish creoles are still missing: revisiting afrogenesis and its implications for a coherent theory of creole genesis
THE MISSING SPANISH CREOLES ARE STILL MISSING: REVISITING AFROGENESIS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR A COHERENT THEORY OF CREOLE GENESIS
Theories that plantation creoles were all born as pidgins at West African coast slave castles, including that proposed in McWhorter (2000), have not fared well among creolists, amidst a preference for supposing that creoles are born, or not, according to factors local to a given context. In this paper I review some of the responses to McWhorter (2000) and spell out why, especially in light of research since, the “Afrogenesis” paradigm is still worth serious consideration. A key fact is the following. Many creolists argue that a creole did not appear when there was extensive black-white contact and many slaves were locally-born, a scenario most often associated with the Spanish Caribbean and Reunion and now proposed for South American colonies by Sessarego (2014) and Díaz-Campos & Clements (2008). However, conditions were of just this kind in early St. Kitts and Barbados, where most scholars now locate the birth of English-based and French-based plantation creoles. The disparity in outcomes between these locations means that after fifty years, there is no coherent theory of how or why creoles come to be. I argue that only Afrogenesis shows the way out of this conundrum.