Alterity, Recognition and Performance: The Queer and the Animal in Makeda Silvera’s “Caribbean Chameleon”


This article explores notions of performativity in the story “Caribbean Chameleon,” published in Makeda Silvera’s collection Her Head a Village (1994). The story emphasises problems of performing with regards to the categories of race and gender as they pertain to the lived experience of Anglo-Caribbean migrants in Canada, a country which, in spite of its ostensible positive engagement with difference, is nevertheless still systemically hostile to migrants. Being able to adequately “perform” race or gender in a non-threatening way for the system becomes imperative for migrants, which the story highlights framing its critique of racial profiling within the conventions of the stage. This opens the door to examining the types of performativity with which “Caribbean Chameleon” engages. In this article, I discuss how notions of performance, performing and performativity interact with representations of queerness and animality, which provide and constitute modes of alterity that intersect with questions of race, gender, and (un)belonging that are raised in the story. 
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