Woodside ~ Jamaica
Erna Brodber: writer, Jamaica (b. 1940, Woodside) Cultural historian, social activist, scholar and author, Erna Brodber carried out pioneering research on oral histories and is a very important figure in Jamaican and Caribbean literature. Her works are important for bringing ‘nation’ languages into global literature, foregrounding the African element in Caribbean identity and the power of cultural memory. Combining an academic approach (grounded in orthodox historical facts) with storytelling, her first novel, ‘Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home’, won acclaim for its experimental structure and lucid insights. It focuses on the nature of community and in particular on women’s struggles in dealing with both the legacies of the past and contemporary realities. The book was path-breaking in terms of individual and community identity formation. An important aspect of Erna Brodber’s approach, for example in her novel ‘Myal’, is her emphasis on a community’s spiritual consciousness, the interrelatedness of spirit, mind and matter in human experience, and the recognition that spiritual restoration is essential for healing in the post-colonial context. Erna Brodber is highly respected internationally and lectures widely on issues such as Black consciousness, emancipation, post-colonial feminist thought and the legacies of Black writers. She has received the Jamaican government’s prestigious Musgrave Gold Award for Literature and Orature. As a woman writer, a community organiser and a public intellectual who draws huge crowds to her presentations, Erna Brodber is an important role model, giving women a voice in a zone of silence.