I trust those with whom I express disagreement will accept this critique in the collegial spirit it is intended.
|"The matter almost demands a Venn diagram for clarity."|
As such, I could, if I chose to do so (and sometimes I do), identify as Creole — doubly so because Cajuns themselves are to begin with a kind of Creole. After all, are they not, as I describe Creoles above, native to south Louisiana and of Roman Catholic and French-speaking heritage?
|"It is interesting to note, for example, that in 2018 the University of Georgia Press issued a book titled Creole Italian: Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture."|
|The expulsion of the Cajuns' Acadian ancestors from Nova Scotia, 1755. Source: William Cullen Bryant, Sidney Howard Gay, Noah Brooks, Scribner’s Popular History of the United States, Vol. 3 (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896).|
UL sociologist Henry thus concludes, “[B]y the turn of the [20th] century, Cajuns/cadiens are a group symbolically discrete. . . . [and] a breed apart.”(4) Cajun historian Carl Brasseaux echoes this view, stating, “[T]he Acadians [in Louisiana] were by 1803 on the threshold of a new and significant period of socioeconomic change, one that would transform them . . . into Louisiana Cajuns.”(5) He continues this theme elsewhere, averring that by the end of Reconstruction in 1877, “[A]scriptive [i.e., attributed] distinctions between Acadians and neighboring groups had become blurred, giving rise to the creation of a new people — the Cajuns.”(6)
|Elista Istre's excellent recent volume |
about Creole history,
from the University of Louisiana Press, Lafayette, La.
As a historian I believe my role is to observe, chronicle, and interpret, and to do so as objectively as possible. To involve oneself too closely, too personally with a living subject of study like an ethnic group — such as by seeking to change that group’s behavior — is to relinquish objectivity and to cross into the realm of activism. And while activism in itself can be a rewarding pursuit, I do not believe it mixes well with scholarship. Granted, complete objectivity is possible only in theory, but the very quest for objectivity can elevate the quality of research and analysis to a higher, more refined level. It can do so by guiding researchers around pitfalls like wishful thinking and what the history profession calls filiopiety (or filiopietism), a fancy term for “ancestor worship.” Such weaknesses can result in misunderstanding or, worse, deification of those who came before us — at the expense of their humanity.