Birthing and Burying a Dragon: Masking and Unmasking Afro-Caribbean Sexual and Masculine Identity in Earl Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance

Tyrone Ali


An emergent Afro-centric counter-hegemonic masculine figure was the profound birth of Empire’s erosion in the Global South, claiming a heroism that was instrumental in creating an imperative of resistance. Though not an absolute, for many urban black men of the lower socio-economic stratum, the tool they relied on to assert resistance was encompassed in a hypermasculine identity. Inclusive among traits were violence and aggression, resistance to institutionalized authority, and a rhythm of abandon and surrender vis-à-vis heteronormative sex and sexuality. This paper seeks to explore related Empire-resistant Afro-Caribbean masculine and sexual identities in Earl Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance with a view to understanding the impact of the dragon metaphor on masculine identity, and the subsequent role that love plays in debunking the myth of related masculine constructs attached to this metaphor. The overarching aim is to underscore masculinities that has been founded on violence and licentious sexual relations as a crumbling falsetto in Lovelace’s imaginary. Rather, it becomes almost a rite of passage for his protagonist who finds his true emerging, defining and robust sense of self, as a response to love and intimacy. In this regard, Lovelace’s craft becomes a most apt literary work to explore the dynamism of new and evolving masculinities in the postcolonial Caribbean.


masculinities, male sexuality, love, intimacy, Afro-Caribbean

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