During my time on Sint Eustatius I was often asked if I belonged to ‘this’ or ‘that’ family. Locals sometimes asked why they had never seen me before, or was it that they had forgotten who my parents were. Among some of the students I worked with it I was labeled a Yankee, because I “talk like a Yank” and was unfluent in local dialect. The notion of Yankee here referred to more than people from the United States and emphasized my otherness while not excluding my Dutchness. Local dialect, a creole English which includes Dutch words and phrases from surrounding islands was understood as a specific language skill and a testament of smallness as you have to be part of the community to be skilled at it. The students were quick to teach me the right pronunciation to enhance my local language skills.
The idea of smallness is ofcourse not limited to the Caribbean, but it is interesting to look at the ways in which it plays out in the Caribbean. As the Caribbean is particularly dependant upon material, economic and social migration, an islands’ smallness is linked to other islands and countries. Authenticity then, does not necessarily imply an exclusionist point of view, but rather a relational groundwork. To be considered other does not have to conflict with being included. Every testament of smallness is therefore also proof of the transnational that is inherent to the Caribbean.
 “Wie is je vader, wie is je moeder?” as pronounced in Dutch. Click the link to view an interview on the show Raymann is Laat! Broadcasted March 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgGm73KO3w8
A version of this post was previously featured in the may 2019 newsletter of the Caribbean studies Association.