Columbus's arrival in the so-called New World has given rise to a number of divergent and sometimes debatable interpretations. However, there remains the indisputable fact that the Genoese sailor's crossing of the Atlantic shaped the societies that make up today's American continent, among others the Caribbean. It determined the racially kaleidoscopic nature of its population and, more importantly, triggered off a vast, wide­ ranging and often painful migratory phenomenon which in turn led to an almost 'infinite rehearsal', to use Wilson Harris's by now famous phrase, of the initial collision between two worlds. Whether forcible or voluntary, displacements and encounters with otherness have always been at the very heart of the Caribbean condition



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