The Sea Islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina function as a vital bridge between African Americans and their African ancestry, retaining a unique African culture that had been forgotten in the mainland communities. The Gullah/Geechee people, the inhabitants of the Sea Islands, are the most distinctive group of African Americans, who maintained a separate creole language and are unique from any other subset of African Americans. Paule Marshall’s vision of the Sea Islands in her 1983 novel Praisesong for the Widow illustrates the mythical landscape as a place for excavating and forging cultural as well as historical connections. The article focuses on the protagonist’s displaced historical memory, lost cultural connections, and self, which are awakened on the Sea Islands. Marshall links the Sea Islands and the African diaspora through the space of the Caribbean, emphasizing on discovering and recovering kinship ties. The protagonist’s understanding and awareness of a diasporic Gullah/Geechee identity comes to light when the Sea Island’s heritage wins over her oppressive American culture. The African diaspora is reunited in this novel through storytelling, dance, music, and rituals of reverence and remembrance, thereby enabling the protagonist to acknowledge and identify her Gullah roots and culture. As retrieval of real and imagined cultural inheritances is crucial to the construction and process of creolized identities, Marshall posits the Sea Islands as central and a site of cultural expression in the novel. Marshall’s depiction of the Sea Island’s role in Praisesong as a unique southern landscape serves as a healing ground for physical and cultural loss.


cultural identity, Gullah/Geechee communities, rituals, Sea Islands, storytelling

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)