The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 39, Issue 1

Article 7
Refining “Bajan” Identity, 1930–1980

Patricia Stafford


The concepts of imaged communities and the invention of tradition are now familiar to historians through the work of Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawn. This article shows how, with the coming of an independence consciousness, the Barbadian middle class, which had allowed its cultural heritage almost to be lost, re-appropriated Barbadian folk culture to assert their national identity. Within the space of fifty years they moved from being “Little Englanders” to “Bajans”. While this process was taking place, they refined what had been unacceptable and made it desirable by validating and professionalizing their cultural products.

 They are callin
becos you are here
fuh you never went away
yuh stayed
hidin under de talk
of massa tonque
disguising yuhself
all along.