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Culture

Vintage portrait of a lady from Martinique

In literature, major writers like Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, and Patrick Chamoiseau focused on Caribbean history and identity, while Joseph Zobel’s novel, Sugar Cane Alley, shows the harsh life of plantation workers a century ago.

In the fine arts, a group of painters founded the Caribbean Negro School during the 1970s to explore Martinique’s African heritage. A decade later, the artist group Fromajé sought to develop “a Caribbean aesthetic” that would convey “the strength of our roots, the memory of our people.”

Quadrille dance Martinique

Martinique’s history also resonates in the island’s mix of European, African, and Caribbean music. The quadrille originated in eighteenth-century France, whereas chouval bwa, bèlè, and zouk music all have Afro-Caribbean roots. Biguine is a form of ballroom music whose bèlè roots are evident in the drums and tibwas, but whose use of clarinets, trombones, and banjos recalls New Orleans jazz. 

Sculpture of a huge mask at Clément Foundation

Visitors can also explore Martinique’s rich history and cultural heritage through an extensive network of museums scattered throughout the island and a more recent multi-artist installation of totem poles in the city of Saint-Pierre.