The first intellectual history of the Caribbean written by a top Caribbean studies scholar, this book examines both writings penned by natives of the region as well as a body of texts interpretive of the region produced by Western authors. Stressing the experiential and cultural particularity of the Caribbean, the study considers four major questions: What art, literature or thought can come from the minds of people who have undergone a catastrophic history? What makes the conceptual paradigms fashioned by the Western intellectual industry capable of illuminating the distinct experience of Antilleans, but not vice versa? Do Antilleans lack the intellectual history required for the interpretation of culture, whether in their region or elsewhere in the world? Why is the specificity of Caribbean humanity such that it cannot be used as a paradigm for humanity as a whole?